Water-Wise Plant Characteristics: Arid Regions

Plants adapted to arid regions have developed strategies to overcome long periods of water shortage. Note, however, that not all arid region plants are water-wise.

Riparian and wetland plants naturally found in wet areas need significantly more water than drought adapted plants. Avoid planting these plants in the same water zone as drought tolerant plants.

Plants found at higher elevations in most western mountain states may also fail to thrive in adjacent drier, hotter valleys.These plants are adapted to the …

Noxious Weeds and Water-Conserving Landscapes

Weeds are plants that frustrate gardening or landscaping goals. Like other plants, weeds are categorized as perennial, annual, grassy, broadleaf, and woody, and are managed accordingly.

Unfortunately, some weeds are so aggressive and difficult to control that they are labeled ‘noxious’.

Executive Order 13112 (February 3, 1999) identifies noxious weeds as “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health” and are required to be controlled by law.…

Misconceptions About Using Native Plants in the Landscape

Common misconceptions about using native plants in the landscape include:

Native plants have fewer insect and disease problems – Not always true

  • In nature, a native plant problem might go unnoticed, but the same plant in a traditional landscape may give a poor appearance

Native plants are adapted to the area and have superior growth – Not always true

  • Cold hardy native plants may have superior growth but may not be adapted to disturbed soil conditions often found in residential

What is a “Native” Plant?

In the United States, native plants are generally defined as plant species that have existed in an area before European settlement.

Some Definitions of Native Plants

Federal Register: “Native” plants are “all species of plants and animals naturally occurring, either presently or historically, in any ecosystem of the United States.”

USDA Federal Executive Order 13112: “With respect to a particular ecosystem, a species that, other than as a result of an introduction, historically occurred or currently occurs in that …

Ornamental Grasses for Water-Wise Landscapes

Ornamental grasses are becoming increasingly popular for use in water-wise landscape designs. Combined with drought tolerant perennials, ornamental grasses can create a strong visual impact from summer through the winter season.

Characteristics of Ornamental Grasses

  • Most ornamental grasses require full sun
  • Many species of ornamental grasses are drought tolerant
  • Different ornamental grass species bloom either in summer or fall  depending if they are cool or warm season plants
  • Are available in a wide array of sizes, forms, leaf colors,

Evergreens for Water-Wise Landscapes

Evergreen trees and shrubs retain their leaves during all seasons. Although most evergreen are conifers, not all fall into this category. Examples of non-coniferous native and moderately to highly drought tolerant evergreen plants include: