Drought Tolerant Landscaping

If you life in California, there is no escaping the talk of the California drought. The water shortage has been getting worse and worse each year. Being avid backpackers in Southern California, we have definitely noticed the lack of water during our camping trips. It hits us especially hard after seeing the year-round creeks and riverbeds we’ve visited in the past dry up permanently. After an especially warm summer in Southern California, we wanted to do what we can to help conserve water. We decided stop watering our lawn at the beginning of the summer and replace our grassy lawn with xeriscaping.

Recalling back on our last yard renovation where we tried to save our grass by replacing it, it was a huge mistake and the grass required so much water, it ended up dying within a year!


back yard grass


front yard

We took advantage of our local water district’s rebate which included turf removal ($2/sqft during the time we applied), drip irrigation and smart timer. With the help from Tree of Life, a local nursery that specializes in California native plants, we redesigned our yard around California native plants.


We started laying out the boundaries of our yard design after we removed the grass


We had the raw materials delivered to our yard after removing all the grass

One of the most important design criteria for us was to ensure the ground remains permeable to catch all the rain. We did not want to concrete over the yard and have the rainwater runoff into the storm drains. The lack of water storage in California has been a huge issue for the state and we wanted to do what we can to help retain water.

We decided to go with pea gravel in the backyard, not only it is permeable, we also did not have to worry about leveling the ground in the backyard with the gravel .

backyard_side table

To make the space more usable, we built a fire place and outdoor furniture. Louis even built a side table and bench from reclaimed wood of an old tree we cut down years back.

rain barrel

We installed four 65 gallon rain barrels last year, it captures a good amount of water during a rain storm.

We went with decomposed granite with stabilizer in the front yard, because it would look cleaner and hold the slope in the front yard in place. Although the final result turned out fine, I think the front would looked fine with mulch, which is much cheaper than decomposed granite.

front yard

Front yard with an extended walk path. Plants here include salvias in red, white and blue and sundrops.

front yard_2

We mulched the back portion of the front yard. Plants here include salvias, sweet pea bush (not native to CA), verbena lilacina, wayne rodernick daisy, catalina silverlace and golden yarrow.

side yard

we were able to utilize leftover decomposed granite and flag stone went to the side yard

In addition to the turf removal, Louis also installed drip irrigation conversion kit for the yard, along with a smart irrigation timer. We are still struggling with the drip irrigation due to the terrible condition of our old irrigation pipes.
drip irrigation install

Smart Irrigation Timer

We really like the smart timer we installed, the Rachio smart timer is smart WiFi enabled, allowing you to control your irrigation system on your smart phone.

Shortly after we finished completing our landscaping, we were contacted by our local water district for a water award! The water district really liked what we have done with our yard and wanted to share with others. And for the most exciting part, since June 2015, we have used 75% less water than during the same period in 2013. We have brought down our water usage during the last month to just 70 gallons per day!
water hero sign


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s