Drought Tolerant Garden
Drought-tolerant landscaping has become more popular and even mandatory in regions that experience little or sporadic rainfall. Some regions and cities impose fines or offer rebates and incentives to homeowners who replace their thirsty lawns and gardens with water-wise plants and hardscape. If you drive by a home with a dying lawn, the residents probably have stopped watering it and are planning to add gravel, river stones, permeable paving, and low- or no-maintenance ground covers, shrubs, trees, and perennials that don’t need daily irrigation.
What does drought tolerant mean in relation to landscaping and the environment? Let’s break it down. The word drought means: “…a period of dryness especially when prolonged; specifically: one that causes extensive damage to crops or prevents their successful growth.”* The word tolerant means, in the broader sense: “capacity to endure pain or hardship,” and, more specifically, “relative capacity of an organism to grow or thrive when subjected to an unfavorable environmental factor.”
That understood, we know that, through lack of rainfall and water, drought causes plants, crops, and wildlife to become parched and eventually die. If a plant is drought tolerant, it is able to grow or thrive during or in spite of a drought.
The Native Plant Connection
Most drought tolerant plants are what are considered native plants in a particular region. They are the plants, shrubs, and trees that graced the landscape long before settlers showed up with other plants and a garden hose. Check with local universities, master gardeners, and native plant organizations to find out more about the natives in your area.
Ornamental grasses provide fantastic versatility in texture, color, and structure for virtually any garden, particularly those that receive less water. Even after frost has flattened other plants, grasses stand tall.
Purple fountaingrass sends out frothy seedheads that look particularly dazzling when backlit. Stunning maidengrass (Miscanthus ‘Gracillimus’) can