Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

May 12, 2015

Low water-use garden for dry climates, like Southern California

I love Southern California. From San Diego to Santa Barbara, I get back there as often as I can. And though I live in the Phoenix area now, Southern California is where I learned about creating beautiful, low water-use gardens. That's because Southern California is a dry climate.

Southern California has been transformed so much over the past 150 years that I really can't blame people if they don't see a dry climate. Money, and water, has poured in so consistently that there are very, very few places that actually look the way that they did when Southern California was New Spain, from the 1500s to the 1800s. You know, the days of Zorro in old Los Angeles!

So if you live in Southern California and are suddenly discovering that your water-wasteful garden is suffering, don't despair. Here's a trick - wander over to Phoenix and take a look.

Yeah, it's a LOT hotter in Phoenix, and dryer. And so we realize that we are in a dry climate. Even poolside, surrounded by palm trees, we are reminded of it. Water is precious in the desert, and so we make the most of it.

If this blog looks like I pour an enormous amount of water on my garden, trust me, I don't. Water is too precious, and too expensive. I use the most carefully-engineered tiny amounts of water that I can. The turf is artificial, the watering is done with a drip system. My water use is no higher than most of my neighbors, and certainly less than those with a swimming pool.

So, please don't let everything in your yard die, and become nothing but weeds. There are a lot of beautiful plants that do well, and use very little water in a dry climate. Find out about succulents, agaves, cycads, and palm trees (look for the native California palms that grow in the desert). And please take care of my Southern California, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Brad draws custom cartoon illustrations for publications, blogs, presentations, anything you want. You can contact him directly at his website
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