Many water agencies in Southern California have recently expanded landscape irrigation restrictions. Here at Creative Concepts Landscape, we are receiving more requests to have drought tolerant landscapes installed for residential properties.


Drought tolerant can be a somewhat confusing term. There are many plants that have evolved in regions which go through extreme droughts, however they tend to lose their leaves and go into a form of dormancy. These plants will survive off very minimal rainfall, but they will look unhealthy in the cultivated landscape. These are truly drought tolerant plants. There are many other plants that do well in our region with minimal supplemental irrigation, however they will still often need some irrigation about once a month. These are low water plants.


Drought Tolerant Plants vs. Low Water Plants


A drought-tolerant plant is one that survives when water is completely cut off. Typically, these plants’ leaves shed off when there is a lack of water. They tend to look unattractive in this state, however when water is turned back on (or we get some notable rain), these plants will typically return to a lusher form.


Pros: Plant survives without supplemental irrigation

Cons: It will look very unattractive in your garden until more water is available


Low-water plants, on the other hand, are plants that are adapted to live through times when water is scarce, but not absent for extended periods of time. They require low levels of irrigation, but they still do require some periodic water to survive.


Pros: Requires little water, doesn’t endure lots of physical change when water isn’t present

Cons: Plant will eventually die if it’s completely cut off from water source



Why Have a Drought Tolerant Landscape? 


If the landscape is located in a state like California, where there are water often restrictions, it’s important to reduce as much water usage as you can. At some point, the state might introduce fines for water consumption over a certain limit.


Regardless of what you think about a state’s authority to implement such restrictions, lowering your landscape water use will lower your water bill.


Having a drought tolerant landscape will also mean less regular maintenance. A minimal, or non-existent, irrigation system will save labor and material costs, and drought tolerant plants tend to need less pruning (and certainly no mowing).


If you like the desert or somewhat sparce chaparral aesthetic, then drought tolerant landscapes are perfect. These can often be supplemented with beautiful rocks and boulders to give the landscape a more natural appearance with visual focal points.




The main type of irrigation for a drought tolerant, or low water use landscape is drip irrigation. Some studies have shown that using drip irrigation can save 30 to 70 percent of the water used by overhead sprinkler systems.


Of course, no matter what type of irrigation is used for your landscape, you want it installed properly with an appropriate design.


Creative Concepts Landscape will be happy to further discuss drought tolerant and low water use landscapes for your property. Contact us today to set up a consultation.


Below are some common Southern California plants that are drought tolerant, or low in water consumption, and look great in the landscape!








California Lilac


Strawbery Tree


Bay Laurel




Coast Live Oak


By Daniel Williams

Client Laison for Creative Concepts Landscape



The Metroplitan Water District Turf Removal Rebate Program website