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Drought tolerant plants for San Diego will continue to be a much talked about topic despite the drought being over! Here we are just 6 weeks into 2017 and after multiple rains in January, and along with a historic snow pack in the Sierras water governing officials are declaring a three year water windfall! This all seems so entirely short sided to me knowing that three years of water guzzling agriculture and thirsty landscaping will once again impact our water use for all the future generations of San Diegans.

Fortunately, I can sense that most eco conscious homeowners are still very likely to continue using drought tolerant plants for San Diego gardens. And despite the availability of water, the cost of water will still continue to climb. Look at Poway’s recent drought surcharge tacked on to residential water bills, an initial increase of 7.75%. With these certain economics, everyone has to take notice and make changes in their own outdoor spaces.

The xeriscape movement has taken hold in San Diego; in nearly every neighborhood one can find both good and bad examples of these landscape retrofits. The bad ones are the “dyi” attempts to put down all gravel and toss in a few plants, still using Bird of Paradise and Pigmy Date Palms. The great ones have a strong sense of design, interesting textures, and year around color and offer a value to the home it graces.

The basis of these dry landscapes are the plant materials themselves. The front yard is most often the area treated because everyone knows that putting water on turf in your front yard is no longer politically correct. So, based on my own experience I’ll mention a variety of drought tolerant plans for San Diego.

Drought Tolerant Plants for San Diego

In my own former backyard, I chose to have a garden area without ANY irrigation. Once established, I might have used a hose to hit some plants once or twice a month in the hottest times of summer and fall. My garden did have an array of succulents and even some native plants as well as a variety of ornamental grasses. AND, on the plus side, these plants require almost no maintenance. Here is the list:
Agave Americana – Century Plant
Agave parryi – Artichoke Agave
Aloe barbadensis – Aloe Vera
Aloe humilis – Hedgehog Aloe
Aloe cameroonii- Star Fish Aloe
Agave celsii – Celsii Agave
Agave geminfolia –Twin Flowering Agave
Aeonium ‘kiwi’ -Kiwi Aeonium
Aeoium urbicans – Dinner Plate Aeonium
Agave villimoriana – Octopus Agave
Aeonium zwarktop- Zwartkop Aeonium
Beucarnia recurvifloia – Ponytail Palm
Bulbine ‘hallmark’ – Bulbine
Callandrinia grandiflora – Rock Purslane
Crassula mulitcava- Spreading Jade
Crassula ovatum ‘gollum’ Jade Plant
Hesperaloe parviflora – Red Yucca
Graptopetalum paraquayense – Ghost Plant
Kalanchoe thrysiflora ‘solar eclipse, – Kalanchoe
Sedum nussbaumeriana- Gold Sedum
Senecio mandralraiscae – Blue Chalk Sticks
And the grasses….
Bouteloua gracilis – Blond Ambition
Pennisetum ‘red riding hood’ – Dwarf Purple Fountain Grass
Festuca glauca ‘elijah blue’ –Dwarf Blue Fescue
Muhlebergia rigens – Deer Grass
Pennisetum orientale – Chinese Fountain Grass
Stipa tenuissma- Mexican Feather Grass

And as you can see from the photo above, this was not an overly dry looking expanse. So depending on the look you like…..some appreciate more boulders and stone while others want a garden that is still lush, it can be achieved. And again, these were all plants WITHOUT irrigation that thrived.

Other great resources are the Nifty Fifty Plant list and for those who want to see plant materials up close and personal, visit the Cuyamaca Water Conservation Garden. Truly, there are hundreds of plant and combinations, even beyond succulents and grasses. Contact Letz Design for more ideas, a two hour consultation or a fully detailed Master Plan to keep your water bills in check. Save water, enjoy more plants