Drought-inspired ideas for your yard

California might be going through an “exceptional drought” according to NOAA’s Drought Monitor, but more than 30 U.S. states currently have some level of drought. For many homeowners in states that are affected by the drought, switching from all grass to a yard that helps conserve water becomes a priority.

Having a drought-friendly yard doesn’t have to mean switching out all grass for gravel. There are hundreds of plants that can help you have lush, low-maintenance landscaping no matter the rainfall. The following five ideas can help you create a beautiful, drought-inspired yard.

  1. Replace grass with artificial turf

Grass is the biggest water-waster in the yard – and is one of the most high maintenance. Grass upkeep includes watering, mowing, fertilizing, aerating, and more. Replacing natural grass with artificial turf can reduce water usage and the amount of time you spend on yard maintenance. With many color options and hatch patterns, modern artificial turf looks nothing like its neon-green predecessors. Like any surface, artificial turf can get hot and reflect heat in direct sunlight; consider planting shade trees or a pergola to help lower the turf’s temperature.

  1. Add some hardscaping

The popularity of outdoor living spaces is on the rise. According to the “Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features” from the National Association of REALTORS®, fire pits, patios, and outdoor fireplaces are among the top-10 projects that appeal to buyers and help add value to the home. These hardscape areas reduce the amount of grass in a yard while creating a beautiful outdoor living space for family and friends to enjoy.

  1. Replace water-hungry flowers with a water feature

Installing a new water feature might seem counterintuitive to a drought-friendly landscape. However, when water is constantly recycled and recirculated, little is lost. Choose a pondless water feature, such as a waterfall or large fountain, to prevent additional evaporation or water waste; for the same look without the water, consider designing a dry creek bed using river stones.

  1. Choose native plants

When choosing plants for the garden, try to choose native flora as a way to save water. Because native plants are adapted to the region, those from drought-prone areas typically need less water. While this makes them more durable in drought conditions, try not to skimp on the watering when they are first planted.  All new plants need plenty of water in order to establish a healthy root system.

  1. Plant ornamental grasses

While they might not be a traditional green lawn, most ornamental grasses are drought-tolerant and perfect for low-water gardens. Drought-resistant ornamental grasses include fountain grass, little bluestem, blue oat grass, pampas grass, and blue fescue. To add texture and visual interest, mix it up with grasses of varying heights and colors.

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