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    Alternative Plants to Grow in Your Garden to Conserve Water

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    California just came through one of the driest winters in years. Snow fall from the mountains didn’t yield as much runoff as experts had hoped, and now Californians will be facing water shortages this summer. In order to conserve water, authorities have enacted a water conservation program in the state.

    Anyone caught breaking it will be forced to pay hefty fines. Considering the tons of water that is used to maintain lawns and gardens, Californian green thumbs are forced to restrict their water usage. What a pain, especially if their gardens require a lot of water maintenance. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    In fact, if you’re considering planting your own garden, there are ways in which you can have a beautiful garden and conserve water at the same time.

    When planning your garden, choose plants that are native to California, especially ones that don’t require a lot of water maintenance. The state is filled with beautiful trees and wildflowers that are as equally pleasing to the eye as your garden variety rose or honeysuckle, but have the extra added advantage of being great water conservationists.

    When choosing a native tree or plant, the first thing you should take into consideration is whether it is drought tolerant. This simply means that the plant doesn’t require a lot of water to maintain and can even flourish under drought conditions. There are many varieties of shrubs, trees, and plants to choose from.

    For instance, of the shrub varieties, you can choose the California redbud. The California redbud is a deciduous plant that provides lovely colors throughout the year. During the summer, the plant blooms in magenta flowers on leafless stems, which then turn into crimson seed pods with heart-shaped blue-green leaves.

    Cercis Species, Western Redbud, California Redbud Cercis occidentalis

    During the fall, the leaves turn yellow and red. The California redbud also has the added advantage of having a long life and blooms more profusely as it matures. A beautiful addition to any garden, the California redbud is also drought-resistant, which would make this plant ideal for the water conservationist.


    Another drought-resistant plant that no Californian garden can do without is the Cleveland sage. During summers, this plant has pale lavender or violet-blue flowers that have a fragrance that can carry 20-feet on warm summer nights. The Coffee Berry is another ideal plant that is extremely drought resistant. Its leaves turn dark green to yellowish green and it flowers berries that turn from green to red to black during its ripening period. The Coffee Berry can grow 3 to 15 feet tall and can grow 8 feet wide, making it a shrub that can be easily pruned and shaped.

    Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland Sage)

    There are also trees native to California that don’t require a great deal of water maintenance as well. The Western Sycamore, for instance, is drought tolerant once established, and can grow 15 to 20 feet in 5 to 10 years. Western Sycamores also attract hummingbirds and butterflies, making this tree a most ideal addition to any California yard.

    There are also native perennials and annuals that you can plant in your garden that are drought resistant. The Island Alum Root, for instance, is a lovely evergreen perennial that blooms in showy pinkish white flowers in 2 to 3 foot clusters during spring. Ideal for ground cover or borders, the Island Alum is not only drought tolerant, but cold resistant as well.

    Deer Grass makes another ideal plant for any California garden. Their bright green leaves grow in dense clumps upwards of 4 feet and higher, sporting yellow or purple flower spikes during autumn. Deer grass can grow in direct sun or in light shade, and require little to no water for maintenance. Another plant that is ideal for water conservationists are succulents.

    The Chalk Dudleya, for instance, can thrive and flourish in containers with very little water. All it needs is well-drained soil and sun, and this lovely succulent will increase in size as it forms new rosettes.

    Anyone of these plant varieties can make ideal additions to your garden, providing years of color and beauty to your yard. But, more importantly, they can help keep the water bills down and contribute to water conservation efforts in the state.

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