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Outdoor Conservation

Drought-Resistant Myths

Some Myths about Drought-Resistant Landscaping


In the average household, water use doubles in the summer, primarily due to landscape irrigation. But, conserving water does not have to mean a dry, grown landscape.

beautiful drought tolerant garden with a bench
MYTH #1 
Drought-tolerant landscaping isn't colorful. 

In truth, many drought-tolerant plants are prolific bloomers. In addition, by carefully choosing foliage colors and textures for contrast, you can bring color interest to the garden year-round.

Saving Water+Gardens

Ways to Save Water in Your Garden:

  • Use a variety of attractive low-water-using plants.

  • Use a drip irrigation system to apply water slowly, reducing run-off and promoting deep rooting.

  • Lay mulch, which can be made from readily available wood chips or leaf mold, act as a blanket to keep in moisture, and help prevent erosion, soil compression, and weeds.

  • Preserve existing trees. Established plants are often adapted to low water conditions. Porous paving materials such as brick, decomposed granite, or gravel used in patios and walk-ways help keep water in the garden rather than in the gutter.

  • Set automatic timing devices, which allow efficient watering on a schedule suited to each area of the landscape.

  • Water in the cool parts of the day to cut down on evaporation.

  • Add compost to your soil to improve its water-holding capacity.

  • Check for and repair leaky hose connections and sprinkler valves. Small leaks can be very wasteful.

  • Ask your nursery person about low-water-using turf, and raise your lawnmower cutting height. Longer grass blades help shade each other and cut down on evaporation.

  • Don't over-water – water only when the soil is dry.

  • Water trees and shrubs – which have deep root systems – longer and less frequently than shallow-rooted plants, which require smaller amounts of water or more often.

  • When planting, remember that smaller-size container plants require less water to become established.

cover of Orange County Native Plants guide

A Planting Guide for Orange County

Once established, a California native garden is easier and less expensive to maintain than traditional landscapes. Set your garden up for success by following this helpful guide.


California Friendly Guide for landscapers

Learn more about which plants are naturally drought tolerant & help support local ecosystems and provide habitat for birds, butterflies and pollinators with this maintenance guide for landscapers, gardeners and land managers.

Conservation Ordinance 2009

What standards have we set for water conservation?

To minimize or avoid the effect and hardship of potential shortages of water to the greatest extent possible, EOCWD has established a Water Conservation Program designed to:

a. Reduce water consumption (demand) through conservation

b. Enable effective water supply planning

c. Assure reasonable and beneficial use of water

d. Prevent waste of water and maximize efficient use in the District

Recycled Water+Gardens

Using Recycled Water in Your Garden

Waste water may be the simplest way to stretch your water budget during the hot summer months. Gray water, which is recycled shower, bath, and laundry water, can be used to keep thirsty plants alive, but some precautions should be followed. Because gray water has not been disinfected, it could be contaminated. A careful, common-sense approach to the use of gray water, however, can virtually eliminate any potential hazard.

The following precautions are recommended:

  1. Never use gray water for direct consumption.

  2. Gray water should not be used directly on anything that may be eaten.

  3. Gray water should not be sprayed, allowed to puddle, or run off property.

  4. Use only water from clothes washing, bathing, or the bathroom sink. Do not use water that has come in contact with soiled diapers, meat or poultry, or anyone with an infectious disease.

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Plant Resources

Low-Water/Drought-Resistant Plants


This list is a good representation of low-water consuming plants that are easily available.

Please check with your local nursery for their suggestions about what is best suited to your area.

Click any of the images below to discover examples of beautiful drought-resistant plants for your next landscaping project.

be water wise

Flowering Plants

  • Achillea (yarrow)

  • Aloe

  • Callistemon citrinus (lemon bottlebrush)

  • Cassia artemisioides (feathery cassia)

  • Centranthus Tuber (red valerian)

  • Cistus (rockrose)

  • Convolvulus cneorum (bush morning glory)

  • Cortaderia selloana (pampas grass)

  • Coreopsis verticillata

  • Cotinus coggygria (smoke tree)

  • Cytisus and spartium (broom)

  • Echium fastuosum(pride of Madeira)

  • Escallonia

  • Eriogonum (buckwheat)

  • Fremontodendrom (fremontia)

  • Garrya elliptica

  • Kniphofia uvaria (red-hot poker)

  • Lantana

  • Lavandula (lavender)

  • Lemonium perezii (sea lavender)

  • Nerium oleander (oleander)

  • Ochna serrulata (Mickey Mouse plant)

  • Pennisetum setaceum (fountain grass)

  • Plumbago auriculatta (cape plumbago)

  • Poinciana gilliesii (bird of paradise bush)

  • Romneya coulteri (Matilija poppy)

  • Satureja montana (winter savory)

  • Teucrium fruticans (bush germander)


  • Acacia (certain species)

  • Casaurina (Beefwood)

  • Cedrus deodara

  • Certonia siliqua (carob)

  • Cercis occidentalis (western redbud)

  • Cercidium (palo verde)

  • Cupressus glabra (Arizona cypress)

  • Eriobotrya japonica (loquat)

  • Eucalyptus

  • Geijera parvifolia

  • Hakea (tree types)

  • Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon)

  • Juglans hindsii (California black walnut)

  • Lyonothamnus floribundus asplenifolius (Catalina ironwood)

  • Melaleuca linarifolia, M. styphelioides

  • Olea europaea (olive)

  • Palms

  • Parkinsonia aculeata (Mexican palo verde)

  • Pinus (pines)

  • Pistacia chinensis (Chinese pistache)

  • Quercus (oaks)

  • Rhusiancea

  • Robinia (locust)

  • Schinus molle (California pepper)

  • Sequoiadendron gigantrum (big tree)

  • Tamarix apliylla (salt cedar)

Foliage Plants

  • Agave

  • Arbutus unedo (strawberry tree)

  • Artemisia (wormwood)

  • Atriplex (saltbush)

  • Centaurea gymnocarpa

  • Dodonaea viscosa (hopseed bush)

  • Elaeagnus

  • Pittosporum (some species)

  • Portulacaria afra (elephant's food)

  • Prunus lyoni, P. ilicifolia, P. caroliniana

  • Rhamnus alaternus, R. crocea ilicifolia

  • Rhus ovata (sugar bush)

  • Senecio cineraria (dusty miller)

  • Xylosma congestum

  • Yucca


  • Bougainvillea

  • Campsis (trumpet creeper)

  • Solanum hartwegii (cup-of-gold vine)

  • Solanum jasminoides (potato vine)

  • Tecomaria capensis (cape honeysuckle)

  • Vitis vinifera (wine grape)

  • Wisteria

Many Forms

  • Ceanothus

  • Cotoneaster

  • Grevillea

  • Juniperus (juniper)

Ground Cover

  • Baccharis pilularis (dwarf coyote brush)

  • Gazania

  • Hypericum calycinum (creeping St. Johnswort)

  • Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)

  • Santolina chamaecyparissus

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