Creating a drought-tolerant garden is an excellent alternative for those tired of frittering away their precious weekends mowing, blowing, and edging. In the 60’s and 70’s in America, large lawns were a symbol of success.   The image of a khaki-wearing Dad preening the lawn on Saturdays used to be one of prosperity. Well, times have changed. No longer are lawns considered an essential home component. In fact, California Horticulturalist Tom Piergrossi calls turf lawns, “a luxury item.”

Not only are lawns weekend time-suckers, they’re downright expensive. The amount of water, gas and fertilizer for regular lawn maintenance can really add up. Of course swapping a lawn for a sustainable drought-tolerant garden is not only easier on the wallet—it’s easier to upkeep and more environmentally-friendly.

But before planting you will likely need to amend your soil and get rid of imbedded rocks. You may want to repurpose the dug up rocks around your garden to serve as embellishments or create a dry stream bed. There are many drought resistant trees, shrubs, and plants from which to choose—the hearty and giant-leafed Cast Iron Plant, Butterfly Bush, Lamb’s Ear, the dainty flowered Dusty Miller, Purple Heart, Mexican Sage, Treasure Flower, Kangaroo Paws and many others. Check with your nursery for suggestions before you start.

After you’ve planted the new growth you must water often until the root systems are established. Once the root systems are well established (after about six weeks) you can cut back on your watering to about once a week.

Your new garden will teem with wildlife. You’ll be able to simply look out your window to watch butterflies, bees, and birds of every make and model (including hummingbirds) enjoying their new drought-resistant habitat.