The planters around town are full of succulents and “drought shaming” is an unfortunate fad between neighbors throughout Southern California. The signs of change are all around us and I want to help. Spring will be here in March so here are my ideas on how to make your home/garden water-wise and drought tolerant.
California is a Mediterranean climate type and one of my favorite Mediterranean trees is the fig tree. It has big beautiful leaves and does remarkably well indoors as well as outdoors. This could be a great option to start with in an apartment or a great addition to your yard.
Just don’t get this fig tree. This is a strangler fig. It is actually eating another tree! Some fig trees will destroy your yard once they mature. Do your homework. I recommend a dwarf tree so that it doesn’t grow too large. Also, if you plan on eating the figs then I recommend trying the fruit from the tree you want to buy first. Some figs are sweet and delicious and some are gross. You only need to water a fig tree once every 3 weeks. Low maintenance and delicious.
If you have a lawn you need need need to switch over to one of these alternatives. First, do you like your lawn? If the answer is no, tear it out and put something you do like instead. If the answer is yes then consider these “grass upgrades”.
Carex Pansa looks and feels identical to a lawn but you will water it 70% less than your current lawn and you only need to mow it once a month. The grass in this image has been left unmowed for a more natural look.
Yarrow can be grown as a running ground cover that can handle light foot traffic. It only needs to be mowed a few times a year. Yarrow may not flower if it has been cut though. If you let yarrow grow without mowing then it will reach about 3-feet high, producing flowers all through the summer.
Succulents are a great addition to your home or garden. You can make a whole garden using only succulents or just have one lone succulent in your home. They are incredibly low maintenance you can go out of town for a month and it will still be alive when you get back.
Sencio is a good filler succulent. They spread out low to the ground and have a pleasing blue grey green color.
Echeveria is the centerpiece succulent. Surround it in a sea of sencio or gravel or other low spreading succulents to make it stand out. It has a large rose like structure with a red and purple hue.
Firesticks (Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea’) add a unique form to your garden. You can use them alongside other succulents to create an ocean garden look.
Here is a great succulent garden design with an ocean like motif. Notice the firesticks in the back as well as the echeveria. They added some lava rocks and driftwood to complete the look.
Grape vines are very romantic and very Californian. Grapes need very little water and have great form. The varietal Flame Seedless grapes have a bright red fruit that is sweet and delicious. You can plant multiple varietals so that you have grapes 9 months out of the year.
Here is some inspiration to help you design your dream garden. These designers are also available for hire if you want to have something fantastic without all of the technical work.
Bernard Trainor – California Natural