Low Maintenance, Water-wise Gardens - Pasquesi Home and Gardens
drought-tolerant perennials, orange coneflowers

Low Maintenance, Water-wise Gardens

Don’t allow water-use restrictions or a lack of rain stop you from dreaming about the perfect garden… a balance of beauty and low maintenance. Through careful decisions concerning appropriate plants that thrive in dry conditions, and specific xeriscape suggestions, you’ll be able to create an intentional garden landscape for yourself and the pollinators.

1. Reduce lawn size: Face it… lawns are real water-guzzlers and most turf grass requires watering to stay green during a drought. However, if you replace, at least part of your lawn, with water-wise plantings and implement a few of these hardscaping ideas, you’ll be on your way to creating a lower maintenance landscape.

2. Choose drought tolerant perennials... include ornamental grasses, low-growing groundcovers* and drought-hardy flowering perennials. *Many groundcovers bloom without requiring much water.

A. Ornamental grasses: After becoming established in the garden, many ornamental grasses don’t need much water or attention. Their deep roots have evolved to withstand extended times of drought. Look for these efficient plants in many heights, sizes and textures. Many have stunning fall colors, too. (The larger sized containers are available at this time of year, since plants have had more time to grow.)
Perennial grass options below:
Blue Oat: A contained, silver green, clumping grass… an attractive accent or specimen, perfect for rock gardens, too.
Feather Reed ‘Karl Foerster:’ A nice vertical grass with feathery stalks. Thrives in wet soils, yet tolerates drier conditions.
Japanese Forest: A graceful, groundcover grass for shady areas. This one can thrive in drier soil in shade.
• Little Bunny Dwarf: The smallest of the fountain grasses with fluffy, buff-colored blooms. Drought tolerant once established.
Prairie Dropseed: A fine-textured, fragrant grass with late summer panicles. Copper-gold in fall. Easy care groundcover, if planted en masse.
Purple Fountain: A popular drought tolerant grass* that forms a clump of purple-maroon blades topped with rose-red plumes. *An annual in our area.
Yucca (Y. filamentosa ‘Adam’s Needle’): Although not actually a grass, this Yucca is a large evergreen succulent with sword-like leaves and dramatic, bell-shaped flowers. It is a natural focal point in the landscape… often growing up to 8 ft. tall,  including the creamy-white flowerheads.


B. Groundcovers
Sedum ‘Angelina’ (Sedum rupestre): An extra-easy perennial that thrives in hot, sunny locations. Tidy, needle-like, chartreuse foliage sports bright yellow flowers throughout the summer. A sedum that can go weeks without receiving a drop of moisture.
Tip: For best effect, plant ‘Angelina’ in large groupings, drifts, or in rock gardens.
• Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Thyme is a tough, low growing perennial herb that can add plenty of color and texture to your garden. It is fragrant and blooms, too!
• Barrenwort (Epimedium): One of the best groundcovers for dry, shady spots. Heart-shape leaves and spring flowers in lavender, yellow, or white. It spreads slowly through your garden and doesn’t mind growing under tall trees.

C. Water-wise, Flowering Perennials: When summer heat and drought kicks in, these tough flowering plants will hold their own. The beautiful flowers will keep on blooming through a spell of dry weather. Most of the flowers will also attract pollinators. Try the plants below that can bloom with limited care and water, such as:
• Pinks (Dianthus): As a member of the carnation family, it grows in a low, dense mat with grass-like foliage. Flowers have a clove-like fragrance and bloom for several weeks from spring into summer. The plant tolerates hot, dry summers.
• Yarrow (Achillea): Yarrow tolerates the heat and drought but also makes a great cut flower. Loved for its lacy foliage along with the yellow, orange, red, cherry pink, paprika or white blooms… choose your favorite! Only the deer and rabbits don’t like it.
• Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): This native plant is a favorite even if you aren’t looking for a resilient, drought tolerant perennial. The pink-purple flowers bloom from late June-August and will attract butterflies. Or select from many other coneflowers in a rainbow of colors.
• Hyssop (Agastache): As a perennial herb, the plants are covered with flowers that attract hummingbirds & butterflies in summer and autumn.
• Lavender (Lavandula): Lavender looks beautiful and smells amazing. Best of all, it’s super tough (except in soggy soil). You’ll be able to enjoy the blue, lavender, purple, or white flowers all summer long.
• False Indigo (Baptisia): This native prairie plant looks stunning when in full bloom. Larger plants measure 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. In spring, the plants send up sturdy spires of blue, white, yellow, or bicolor pea-like blooms. Drought tolerant and will bloom for years.
• Catmint (Nepeta): Add color throughout the seasons with the purplish-blue blossoms of catmint. The gray-green foliage is fragrant, too. Heat & drought hardy. There’s a type of catmint variety for every garden… from short to tall. Plus, bees and butterflies love it!
• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia): These prairie natives are super low maintenance, drought-tolerant, and pollinator friendly. Yellow-gold flowers with brown/black centers grow freely in beds and borders from late summer into fall.
• Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.): A late-season bloomer that produces daisy-like flowers in purple, blue, white or pink. Although asters prefer rich, well-draining soil, these tough flowering plants can handle a wide range of growing conditions.

4. Decorative Hardscape: Choose elements that will add to the structure and style of your garden… even in the winter months. Look for materials that won’t fade in the blazing sun or crack from freezing temperatures. If you can leave the containers out all year, this will cut down on maintenance and storage space that is needed.
• Pebbles, gravel
• Large specimen rocks
• Arbors, pergolas, fencing, benches
• Art elements such as gazing balls, sculptures, bird baths
• Fountains: The sight & sound of water always add a cooling effect. Birds & butterflies will be encouraged to visit, too.
• Containers: Look for over-sized and unique containers that are made with durable materials that won’t freeze or crack.

(Photo credit: Monrovia): A low-maintenance, pollinator-friendly, and very colorful perennial garden with hardy coneflowers, hyssop, grasses, flowering shrubs and reseeding annuals such as cosmos.

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