< Back to News & Insights

Drought Tolerant Landscaping to Reduce Lawn Maintenance

Timm Ready, CMA,  Sr. Mortgage Advisor

May 22, 2022 — 6 min read

On average, a typical U.S. household uses about 92 gallons of water outdoors every day, with at least half of that devoted to garden and lawn maintenance, according to experts. This summer, instead of watching your grass wither, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint with water-wise plants and drought tolerant landscaping.

What is Drought Tolerant Landscaping?

If you're looking for ways to save money on lawn maintenance, drought tolerant landscaping is a low-effort, sustainable alternative that uses water-wise plants that require little-to-no watering. Drought tolerant landscapes feature plants with small, leathery, or hairy leaves that help reduce water loss. Some use taproots to discover moisture deep underground. However, most importantly, drought tolerant landscapes prioritize plants that are native to your neighborhood. When you prioritize these types of plants, you're supporting local pollinators and insects that need native plants to survive. There are also other benefits that come with drought tolerant landscaping, such as increasing diversity of life.

Where Can I Find Native Water-Wise Plants?

When searching for water-wise plants, pay attention to zoning, the standard by which gardeners can determine which plants are most likely to thrive where. Click here to discover your plant hardiness zone, or visit this site to discover native plants by Zip Code. Search for plants that are easy to grow and can tolerate, resist, or avoid drought after they have been established. Start by walking around your property and noticing the plants that are already growing; some of the best drought tolerant plants will be native, including succulents, shrubs and trees, wildflowers, and ornamental grasses. Front yard with water-wise plants and rocks to reduce lawn maintenance.

How to Incorporate Drought Tolerant Landscaping at Home

Homeowners take pride in their ability to choose plants that reflect their personality and lifestyle. You can still do that with drought-tolerant landscaping, and you may be able to do it for less money. However, before planting, it's essential to make a plan and do the necessary prep work.

Prepare your soil.

You can add organic matter, such as compost, manure, or peat moss, to ensure your soil is nutrient-rich and self-sufficient. This will also increase the soil's ability to hold moisture and capture rainwater. You may want to consider laying down landscape fabric to ensure landscaping efforts aren't lost in the weeds or washed away in heavy rain.

Cover bare ground.

Hard-packed soil discourages plant growth--plus, it's an eyesore. Keep it covered with mulch or a drought-tolerant groundcover, such as sedum, a perennial that thrives in sunny locations. Additionally, be aware of what kind of mulch you're using. Organic mulches may hold too much moisture for some drought tolerant landscapes, which could cause plants to rot. In many cases, it's better to use stones or pebbles.

Use different textures and natural curves.

Use edging to carve out curves, and fill those areas with different kinds of rock chips to add color and interest. If you're incorporating a new walkway, create paths or patterns on your lawn using natural stones. Consider making it curved instead of straight to add a natural aesthetic.

Group plantings and use natural accents.

Unlike traditional gardening, it's best to avoid neat rows when planting a drought tolerant landscape. Instead, create small groups of water-wise plants with similar needs, and then accent them with rocks or other accents that appeal to you.

Collect rainwater.

You can hook a rain barrel up to your gutter spout to capture rain, which you can use to irrigate your plants. However, before hooking it up, consider where your rain barrels will be in relation to where you need water. While it may seem like a good idea to have barrels at every downspout, it may mean the barrel becomes full of fetid water if it's in a part of the yard where you can't use it. You can purchase rain barrels at garden centers or online, or you can build your own. Some communities may restrict water barrels or have safety guidelines, so be sure to check local laws before moving forward. Close-up of water-wise plants in backyard to help reduce lawn maintenance.

Other Ways to Reduce Lawn Maintenance

There are other ways to conserve water and reduce lawn maintenance this summer--indeed, with thoughtful plant selection and placement, it's possible to reduce the amount of lawn that you maintain by at least 25 percent! Before making any changes, however, take some time to determine what you use your yard for--if you need a big grassy area for recreational activities, such as volleyball or children's games, it may not make sense to reduce its size. You should also ensure there aren't homeowner's association rules or local ordinances that would prohibit your plans.

Eliminate areas where grass doesn't thrive.

This may include shaded areas under trees, over-saturated sections of the yard, or rocky outcroppings.

Incorporate flower beds.

Flower beds add color and visual interest to your yard. They also fit perfectly into the corners and edges of the lawn. If you're going to convert lawn grass into a flower bed, select a location that receives lots of sunlight and focus on areas with high visibility. You will want to till up the grass and create a sloped mound of compost-enriched soil before planting your favorite flowers.


Hardscape is everything in your yard that's not living--that means the concrete, bricks, and stone. When you replace living landscaping features with hardscape, you can significantly cut back on water usage and increase property value. It also helps reduce potential erosion. Some hardscapes create shade, such as pergolas or gazebos, while others may reduce erosion, such as a retaining wall, gravel, or paving stone patios. Other examples of hardscapes include patios, decks, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits.


Groundcovers don't require much attention and tend to have a uniform appearance that's attractive when it's repeated over a large area, making it a great option to reduce lawn maintenance. There are many different varieties of groundcover, which means you can tailor your selection to the amount of sunlight and moisture that you receive. Looking for more ways to reduce your carbon footprint and improve the curb appeal of your home this summer? Contact your local Mortgage Advisor for additional resources, or check out our blog for more home maintenance tips.
{ include "_components/button" with { primary: false, value: "Let's go get it", link: '/mortgage-loans', icon: true } %}