Ready For The Next Phase?

Now that you’ve dreamed up and mapped out your perfect landscape, it’s time to select some favorites to install in your design. Here are some smart ways to choose plants, turf, grasses and other water-wise options that work for you.

Selecting Water Wise Plants

You don’t have to sacrifice beauty to save water. There are plenty of gorgeous plant options that thrive in low-water conditions. Use these tips to select the perfect landscape-enhancing plants.

Choose plants that work for you. Look for low water grasses, trees, shrubs, plants and groundcovers that fit your environment. (Consider microclimate, location, sun exposure, desired maintenance, intended use and your budget.)

Mix it up. Select plants with varying colors, height and blooming seasons to create visual interest and pops of color throughout the year.

Give room for growth. Before you plant, find out how tall and wide each plant will grow to provide the space they need as they mature.

Create a color scheme. Select plants with complementary colors and use both warm and cool colors to create depth. Repeat the scheme throughout your landscape for a balanced color flow.

Visit PlantSelect.org, a local resource for plant selections, landscaping designs and helpful information. Here are some ways to explore:

Choose plants that work for you. Look for low water grasses, trees, shrubs, plants and groundcovers that fit your environment. (Consider microclimate, location, sun exposure, desired maintenance, intended use and your budget.)

Click here for downloadable landscaping designs.
Click here to find the best plants for your landscape.
Click here to search for local retailers and garden centers. Call ahead to ask if they have the plants you want.
Water-Wise Meets Budget-Wise

You don’t have to sacrifice beauty to save water. There are plenty of gorgeous plant options that thrive in low-water conditions. Use these tips to select the perfect landscape-enhancing plants.

Stick with Perennials
Low-water perennials are a cost-effective choice; adding beauty to your yard year after year. Once established, all they need is natural precipitation with a little supplemental water during hot and dry parts of the season.

Investing In Expensive Trees & Shrubs?
Before taking the plunge:

  • Set yourself up for success with high-quality soil. Click here for more on Soil Prep & Planting.
  • Plant in areas with suitable amounts of heat and limited wind exposure.
  • Consider how big each tree or shrub will grow to be (tall and wide), allowing ample room for them to mature.

Hydrozone for Maximum Savings
Group plants together according to how much water and sun exposure they need. This saves water and helps plants flourish.

Put high-water plants in easily accessible areas or in low-lying drainage areas, near downspouts or in the shade of other plants to utilize runo and natural shade.

In areas that are harder to reach or aren’t easily accessible, plant low-water plants that require less frequent watering.

Get A Water-Wise Garden In A Box
Resource Central oers professionally designed gardens with a curated selection of beautiful perennial Xeric (low-water) plants to replace turf, reduce watering and generally promote conservation practices for landscapes. Order yours here.

Expert Design Pick

Why We Love It

Filled with color and texture, this design features shrubs and easy-care perennials that look gorgeous year-round plus an array of flowers that bloom from spring to fall.

It attracts bees with fragrant flowers and foliage as well as sun-loving, drought-tolerant and deer resistant plants that grow in well-drained soil (which needs little to no amendment).

It’s versatile enough to be used as a perimeter planting (planted down the sides of a yard) or it can be widened for use in a broader bed by placing the largest plants in the center and mirroring the design on the other side.

Click the plants for more info. And find more sample designs here.

Water-Wise Cottage
Designer: Lauren Springer Ogdene

Selecting Turf Alternatives

It takes a lot of water (and work) to keep a lawn lush and green. Plot your practical turf plan for a smarter, low-maintenance yard.

Design your landscape and determine your best turf options based sun exposure, irrigation, intended use, soil or water challenges, maintenance and your budget.

Explore this site to find a variety of low-water turf options, ground covers and hardscapes that can enhance your space.

Low traffic, hard to maintain areas: Groundcovers, drought-resistant flower gardens, ornamental shrubs and shade trees are perfect for areas that have been a real pain in the grass (near foundations, along medians or on steep slopes).

High traffic areas: Low-water turf is ideal for areas designed to accommodate children’s play, sports activities, entertaining and pets.

Comparison Of Grasses

Grass Type Tall Fescue Buffalograss Kentucky Bluegrass Dog Tuff Grass
Color Light to dark green Light green to blue green Light to dark green Bright green color
Length of Green Season Long: March – December Short: May – September Long: March – December Medium: early June – October
Mowing Requirement More frequent/ grows fast Infrequent/none Less frequent Does not require mowing
Fertilizer Requirement Lower Very low Higher Very low
Iron Chlorosis Infrequent Infrequent More frequent Infrequent to none
Disease Problems Infrequent Almost none Can be disease prone Infrequent
Insect Problems Almost none Almost none Occasional/more common Almost none
Traffic Tolerance Excellent Fair Good Excellent
Traffic Recuperation Poor to fair Poor to fair Good to excellent Good to excellent
Heat/Cold Tolerance Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
Shade Tolerance Good to excellent Poor to fair Fair Poor
Irrigation 20-22” annually. 8-15” annually. 15-26” annually. Proper management can reduce water consumption. Once established, water every 10-14 days. Apply ½-1” water.
Maintenance Frequent spring mowing.
Requires irrigation to survive – does not go dormant well.
Infrequent mowing, irrigation and fertilization. Amend soil to 6” before planting.
Mow between 2-3”.
Use mulching blade.
Aerate once a year.
Use organic fertilizer.
Avoid using weed killers if possible.
If you mow, start in early July. Mow every 5–7 days.
Use organic fertilizer.

Additional Turf Alternatives

In addition to low-water turf options, there are a variety of water-wise groundcovers and hardscapes can enhance your space.

Give Ground Covers A Go
Low-growing ground covers can be used as an alternative to turf in areas with low foot traffic. Usually chosen for texture, density and how well they spread and choke out weeds, ground covers enhance the soil by acting as a mulch.

During the first year, any new ground cover will require weeding and mulching, but once established, little care is needed.

Check out a diverse list of gorgeous ground cover options here.

Say Yes To No-Water Hardscapes
Great for high-trac areas, hardscapes are the nonliving elements within a landscape. Hardscapes include patios, decks, fences, boulders, pathways and lighting. They save a lot of water, have multi-uses and look fantastic.

Expert Tip
Consider adding pervious pathways and surfaces to your space, which let water absorb into the ground.

Get Inspired
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