Drought Friendly Landscaping in HOA

Recent droughts and water restrictions are turning lawns brown and are challenging the convention of needing to have a watered green lawn. There are many ways of landscaping that both save water and keep your yard looking beautiful. The concept of a drought friendly landscaping in HOA yard’s tends to conjure images of dusty, dry, desolate landscapes of sand, dying succulents, and rocks. However, there are dozens of plants (even certain grasses!) and landscapes that are both aesthetically pleasing and don’t require excessive watering.


State and local water restriction mandates may be enough to persuade you that the amount of water you use for your lawn can’t be justified. If you live in a very dry, arid climate, going with native desert plants or entirely plant-less with save you and your community much needed water. If you live in an area that gets regular rain but you want to conserve water during drier months invest in ground coverings, plants, and lawns that retain water for long periods.

Even with Seattle’s heavy rain, Stacie Crooks got rid of her lawn and replaced it with perennials and shrubs—requiring ½ the water.

Not only will drought-resistant landscaping save you water and money, you will also keep your community and property safe. When the climate is excessively dry, the risk of brown lawns and plants catching on fire increases. Having a drought resistant landscape also means that you will decrease your chances of having a fire in your yard. Fires spread quickly in droughts, so this precaution will also keep your neighbors and community safer as well.

Dymondia margaretae, a gray-leafed South African ground cover, has replaced the lawn.


Drought Resistant Plants & Grasses (Source: Sunset Magazine)

Depending on the region you live, there are many drought-resistant grasses that will save you water while allowing you to still have a lawn. An added benefit is that they do not need to be watered as frequently as a standard lawn:

Desert: Fine fescue, spring-planted buffalo grass, or blue grama.

Northern California and the Northwest: Fine fescue and hair grass (Deschampsia).

Rocky Mountain: Buffalo grass or blue grama below 6,500 feet; fine fescue above. Plant all in spring.

Southern California: Fine fescue, spring-planted ‘UC Verde’ buffalo grass (along coast).

 There are many ways to have plants in your backyard that will also save you on water. If you live in a sunny climate, consider planting a variety of vibrant green and blue succulents, including aeonium, bulbine frutescens, potted hens & chicks succulents, and agave attenuate.

You can also convert areas of your yard into planter boxes, which you can plant lettuces, herbs, and vegetables in. Your miniature garden will not only give beauty to your space, but will also feed your family. If you plant your edibles close together, you will greatly reduce their water consumption. (pictured on left). Planting a mixture of perennial grasses with lavender can give your yard a fanciful flair while increasing practicality and reducing water intake.


You can eliminate grasses all together and instead add decomposed granite, pea gravel or wood chips as your “lawn.” You can provide contrast and visible walkways by including a combination of flagstones and decorative rocks on top of these. Opting for gravels, wood chips, and stones is not only aesthetically pleasing in a dry climate, but it actually helps protect native plants and prevents soil erosion.

There are a plethora of options to choose from when deciding to make your yard drought-resistant. Whether it’s as simple as changing your lawn to replacing it with gravel and succulents, you can decrease your water consumption while maintaining (and even improving) a beautiful yard.