Warmer seasons and minimal rainfall have created an ongoing water shortage in the San Francisco Bay Area and California. Since many residents faced challenging water restrictions and mandates, they searched for water-saving ways. They found that letting their lawn turn brown did save water. But it also significantly reduced the curb appeal of their home.

Eventually, residents learned about a great way to stop using copious amounts of yard-maintenance water — and create a beautiful homefront. The solution was to replace their thirsty landscaping with drought-tolerant plants and flowers. Water-wise plant choices can seriously reduce your water consumption. And they ensure your yard is beautiful all year long, even throughout dry summer months and during droughts.

Versatile Choices by Nature

You can find hundreds of stunning water-conserving plants, shrubbery and flowers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Your choices include anything from ground covers to delicate grasses, vibrantly colored blossoms and tall shady trees. You can populate your former lawn and surrounding areas with these easy-to-care-for drought-tolerant plants placed directly in the ground. Or many are perfectly happy to live on the perimeters in a pot. 

Although they may look strikingly different, drought-tolerant plants usually work together and have several things in common. They need very little water to look their best, keep soil healthy, attract butterflies and birds, and blend beautifully with most natural landscapes and homes.

Although there are many other drought-tolerant plants available, here are a few popular drought-tolerant choices to help you get started:

Flowering Splendor

Formidable yet beautiful, plenty of drought-resistant perennial flowering plants are available throughout Northern California. Although attention grabbers, these flowers require very little care and water to flourish successfully. 

blue eyed grass

  • Arroyo de la Cruz Blue-Eyed Grass. Bunches of lush blue-green leaves surround a beautiful mixture of violet wildflowers. The flowers continue to bloom throughout the spring and summer seasons. They usually grow to one foot in height and width and are placed in rock gardens and dry borders. They thrive in a yard that offers full sun with very little or no water during the day.
  • Apricot Mallow. These perineal shrubs are known for their gorgeous orange flowers, which can bloom for months just by trimming flowering stems after they bloom. Plant them in sunny areas to help them succeed and water sparingly in summer.
  • California Fuchsia. Flower lovers will celebrate this perennial plant’s riot of brightly colored flowers with green and gray leaves. Flower color options include red, pink and orange and bloom in the latter part of summer and autumn.

Graceful Grasses

Individuals who can’t get along without grass can rest easy knowing they have several options. Drought-tolerant grasses can look different when compared to traditional grass. It has a much more relaxed vibe. It can grow in bunches and wisps or show a low, gentle profile. Along with its subtle beauty, it also doesn’t need much water and never needs mowing. 

  • California sweet grass. This gentle Bay Area native grass prefers growing in shady areas and produces small white flowers. It doesn’t take much water to keep it in tip-top shape.
  • Maiden grass. This decorative California native grass is a pleasure to look at all year long and blooms in the late summer. It is an ideal choice for planting along fences and borders.

Gorgeous Groundcovers

A robust groundcover can bring new life and consistent color to your yard, either as an accent or on its own. The roots they grow can stop soil erosion, yet they require very little maintenance to keep them in excellent condition. As with most plants, some groundcovers prefer mostly shade while others like to live primarily in the sun.

rockrose blooming

  • Rockrose. This groundcover is a compelling choice that requires very little maintenance but does prefer a sunny environment. It can gracefully fill in gaps and provide interest and color to any garden.
  • Creeping barberry. Boasting small yellow flowers in the spring followed by blue-colored berries in early summer, this groundcover is a spirited mix of greenery and color. Settling it into a yard with mostly shade ensures that this plant enjoys good health for all its days.

Savor Your Setting Without Wasting Water

It’s easier than ever to find drought-resistant plants and greenery choices that are a good fit for your home and yard. You can find drought-tolerant landscaping plants and vegetation in local nurseries, markets, online stores, and big-box locations like Home Depot, Lowes and Costco. You can review plant labels for simple guidelines and speak with a plant expert in a nearby landscaping nursery if you need more information. Or you can read drought-tolerant plant books and attend horticulture gatherings in your community. Choosing drought-tolerant plants will help you start enjoying your garden without wasting a drop of water.