Water Smart. Choose Plants that Require Less Water.

Drought, water restrictions and winter, which bring the Santa Ana winds, are all good reasons to “water smarter.” Fortunately, it’s not that difficult! The easiest method is to use native plants. After all, California has a plethora of native plants that are made for this weather. They’re hardy, drought-tolerant, in some instances fire resistant, and beautiful to boot.

Here, we’re giving you a look at how you can combine “smart watering” best practices with “best plant choices” to do your part to keep California green and beautiful.

Best Practices

  • Water lawns two to three days per week during the summer and only when needed during the winter.
  • Water other plants once or twice weekly during the summer and as needed during the winter.
  • Mulch is a multi-purpose landscape element. It helps create an attractive view, controls weed growth, feeds the soil as it decays, and it cuts down on water loss. Bare soil, on the other hand, allows quick evaporation of any water applied to it. Mulching is incredibly simple for something that offers so many benefits. All it takes is a two to three-inch layer applied to plant beds and around shrubs and trees. Be careful not to mulch up to the base of shrubs and trees, otherwise, the plant bases may decay or become sick. Hydro-Scape carries an assortment of mulches and bark.
  • Update old irrigation systems and check all systems for leaks and broken or malfunctioning components. The friendly, professional staff at Hydro-Scape is always glad to help you!
  • Contact your local water agency as they often offer rebates on irrigation systems.
  • Consider adding soil amendments such as nutrients and water-retaining pellets cuts down on water use and improves water percolation.
  • And, of course, choose native plants whenever possible.

Best Plant Selection

Native plants are not only beautiful they’re readily available in nurseries everywhere. They’re also non-invasive and built for your landscape. They even, in some cases, offer protection against fires. The variety of natives is enormous: trees, shrubs, groundcover and grasses, perennials, succulents, and vines.

If you’re planting for fire protection, it’s a good idea to plant low-growing plants about thirty feet from your home and get rid of all dead and dying plants in the area.

Here’s a list of some wonderful California natives you might consider for your own smart landscape:

  1. Deer grass. This narrow-leafed plant forms dense clumps up to two to three feet high and wide. The leaves are bright green with spiky cream-colored flowers.
  2. Coral bells or alum root. Thin, spiky stems of loose bell-shaped flowers top off clumps of round, scalloped leaves. They come in shades of red, coral, rose pink, greens and white.
  3. Baby blue eyes. About six to twelve inches tall and a foot wide, this plant has ferny leaves and bell-shaped flowers.
  4. Malva rose. This flowering shrub grows eight to twelve feet high and wide sporting gorgeous striped blooms.
  5. Douglas iris. A coastal native, this plant grows to about two feet tall and has purple- and blue-shaded flowers.
  6. Bigberry manzanita. This shrub grows fifteen feet tall and twenty feet wide. It has blue-gray leave and clusters of pink to white urn-shaped flowers.
  7. California lilac. These beauties come in many shapes and sizes, all requiring full sun and little to no water.
  8. Toyon. Also known as California Holly or Christmas berry, this large evergreen shrub has brilliant red berries.
  9. Seaside daisy, beach aster. This lovely plant has purple, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers and grows about one foot high by two feet wide.
  10. Hummingbird sage. This is a hardy, small clumping plant that attracts hummingbirds like magic. It has spikes of deep magenta flowers.

These are only a handful of California natives that stand at the ready to help you have a beautiful landscape and survive the drought. You can find many more in “The Nifty 50 Plants for Water Smart Landscapes” brochure at  http://www.watersmartsd.org/sites/default/files/nifty50.pdf