Water Smart Landscaping

Although last winter pulled the Bay Area out of its extended drought, many homeowners in Marin County and around the bay are continuing to be mindful about minimizing water usage in their yards. 

Below are tips from Marin Home Magazine on drought tolerant plants and water-wise techniques that will not only make your garden flourish but also keep your water bill to a minimum.

Lawn Be Gone

Lawns use a lot of water to keep them verdant and healthy. To reduce water use, either replace your lawn completely with a drought tolerant ground cover or reduce its size. Another option is to plant a native fescue that doesn't need mowing (and as such, requires less water).

Permeable Paths

Photo credit Huttle Design

Photo credit Huttle Design

Using various types of gravel or decomposed granite for pathways and patios allows water to be absorbed into the soil rather than running off into storm drains. 

Native Plants

Take advantage of the abundant drought tolerant plants to add interest to your yard, save water and attract bees and butterflies. Ceanothus and manzanita are just two native options. 

Drip Irrigation

Focus your watering by installing drip irrigation and putting it on a smart timer. This will give your garden the targeted moisture it needs based on soil, plant type and weather.

Install a Streambed

Dry streambeds comprised of medium and small rocks not only add visual appeal to your yard but also direct rainfall to areas in your garden where it can be absorbed and utilized by plants that need it most.

Get Visual

Plant a variety of perennials, shrubs, grasses and succulents to offer year-round visual interest, color and texture to your landscaping. Use plants of varying heights to create structure and contrast.

Photo credit Marin Home Magazine

Photo credit Marin Home Magazine


Place a layer of natural mulch throughout your yard to retain moisture and reduce weed growth as well as evaporation. Mulch also adds a layer of color and texture.

Rock Out

Strategically place boulders and rocks of differing sizes throughout your yard to define spaces, add points of interest and structure. 

Boost Soil Health

Keep your garden healthy and nourished by adding organize fertilizer and compost to your soil. Avoid using chemicals and toxic pesticides.

These drought tolerant plants work well in most gardens:

  • Agastache
  • Agave
  • Euphorbia
  • Fremontodendron
  • Grevillea
  • Muhlenbergia
  • Salvia
  • Westringia
  • Yarrow

Because of our recent drought, landscaping ideas have changed. Our yards and gardens have transformed from the simple lawn shrub and trees to multi-layered, textural spaces that incorporate plant life, smart technology and purposeful spaces.