Real Estate

Sprucing up your garden with drought-resistant plants

Fake grass has come a long way and can now replicate mixed colors and even dying blades of grass. photo: projectmanhattan

We are all well aware by now of our four-year drought and the state-mandated water use cutback. Among other things, it means shorter showers and not letting the water run when we wash dishes or brush our teeth. But what does it mean to our home and home value?

Great curb appeal is one of the top things buyers look for in a home. That means trees and plants in front, and a nicely painted, well-maintained home. Another key feature most home buyers look for is a lovely garden. They want to be able to entertain in the garden and let their children play there. But with today’s water crisis, what is a homeowner to do?

Several years ago, before the current drought started, my husband and I made the choice to take out our lovely, water-consuming lawn and replace it with a high-end artificial turf lawn. Now, don’t think of that old, awful Astroturf, which was a color of green not really found in lawns. We went with a high-end selection that had many different shades of green, including some dying-blades-of-grass shades. It looks completely natural, and unless you touch it, you would not know it is artificial. This allowed us to completely turn off a large set of sprinklers. We considered it an investment — one that would pay off financially while also being environmentally responsible.

So now we are looking at our garden to see what else we can do. I have been researching plants that need little or no water to replace some of our more thirsty ones. The first place to start is with native California plants. They are adapted to our soil and water conditions. We are planning a combination of succulents as well as native plants that flower to give a combination of greens and colors. One good color choice is tickweed. It has more than 100 long-blooming species and will add height and color to your garden. Another is California lilac. This beautiful shrub flowers in late winter/early spring. It has a lovely fragrance and showy flowers that run from white to purple. Deer grass is a spiky, dependable ornamental. It loves full sun but will grow with a little shade, and after the first year, you only have to water it every three weeks.

An Australian native (and Australian plants seem to like it here in California) is the Salvia Heatwave series. This is a dependable perennial with silver-gray foliage. It is good as a ground cover and thrives in containers. Best of all, it does not like wet roots. Another colorful plant that is drought-resistant is the Four O’Clock. These are pretty perennials with flowers of white, pink, yellow, and variegated.

Every plant needs water, but drought-resistant varieties need only dainty sips once they are established.

I mention these plants (and there are so many more) because they will keep your garden beautiful despite the limited water allotment. This will make a difference, regardless of whether or not you are thinking of selling.

But if you are, it is important to have the front and rear of your home in top shape. Drought-resistant landscaping enables you to show off your home with an abundance of color. It could very well make a financial difference on your house sale. And it can also help because buyers these days appreciate more green, eco-friendly homes.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Send to a Friend Print
Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at