Drought Is No Match for a WaterSaver Garden

Using the right plants in the right place of your landscape means less worrying about watering and yardwork during the hottest days of the year.

by Cleveland Powell and Brad Wier

Flash back to summer 2021, when it seemed to rain almost every week for half the summer. What a contrast to 2022, with months of dry weather behind us and three months of a mostly dry summer ahead.

Landscaping in Texas always means making the most of unpredictable weather without losing our cool doing it. On the bright side, WaterSaver gardening means designing for weather just like this. Preparing and toughening your landscape for the inevitable dry times.

Instead of considering drought as a crisis we hope never happens, your WaterSaver landscape uses drought as a starting point and makes it look its best. Texas has always been a drought-prone part of the world, and the native landscape can actually be quite lush and green on its own. After all, plenty of plants called this part of the world home long before people started watering them.

Using the right plants in the right place in your landscape means less time worrying about watering and yardwork during the hottest days of the year, and more time enjoying your outdoor living space.

The trick, of course, is the trial and error of finding the right plants for your landscape’s specific conditions, and plants that are accustomed to our feast or famine precipitation regime.

Another strategy to minimize turf and save water is to observe the rule of thirds: 1/3 landscaping, 1/3 turf and 1/3 permeable hardscape (patios, decks, walkways, etc.) Hot dry seasons like these are a great opportunity to analyze your landscape and see what’s working, what’s not, and — with help from our WaterSaver programs — where you can replace grass with living landscaping or a functional feature.

At least two tools WaterSaver landscapers need in their toolbox are planning and attitude.

  • Planning ensures the right plant goes in the right place. Often grass isn’t the right plant if you want to save water. Do you have a patch of turf that never seems to make it through the summer without browning out? Maybe the trees are shading it out? These are excellent areas to convert to landscape beds, groundcovers, patios, and much more.
  • Attitude: A drought gardener knows their garden will not look the same every season. In Texas we have two major seasons that come at any time of the year: wet and dry. Once native plants are established, they have the amazing ability to go dormant when it’s dry and perk up as soon as it rains.

For more on WaterSaver landscaping strategies for drought, join our upcoming webinar “Converting Your Lawn into a Drought Resilient Landscape” Tuesday, June 14 at noon. The event is free, but registration is required.

Of course, you can always visit Garden Style San Antonio for weekly watering advice and landscaping tips to reduce outdoor water use — all while keeping your yard thriving.

Picture of Cleveland Powell
Cleveland Powell
Cleveland Powell is a conservation planner for SAWS. He is enthusiastic about grass taxonomy and milkweed propagation. In his free time, Powell enjoys hiking around area parks in search of intriguing bugs, birds and plants.
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