Back to Latest News

Planting in a Drought: Here’s Three Simple Steps to Fall Planting

Aster - California native plant

Published: 4 November 2021

Don’t hang your gardening gloves up quite yet! Fall is the ideal time in California to plant drought-resilient plants and trees that will grow to provide beauty, shade and enjoyment for years to come. 

Why Fall? When the soil is warm and air temperatures are mild, plants placed now will spend time developing a larger root zone. With time, that larger root zone will help them face next summer with strength and style.

Get started on your fall landscaping today. Here’s how:

Step 1: Preparing for Water-Wise Plants

As you consider what water-saving, California-friendly plants and trees go best with your home’s landscape and region’s climate, be sure to check what type of irrigation system is installed and whether you can install a watering timer, and/or weather-based controller on the system. Weather-based controllers act as thermostats for your garden and will automatically adjust the amount of water delivered to plants according to local weather rather than on a pre-programmed schedule.

Installing a drip system is another great way to save water as these systems reduce watering frequency through a low-volume system that directly emits water to a plant’s roots, leading to less runoff and evaporation. See this helpful article from the Home Depot on how to install drip irrigation in your yard.

Step 2: Consider California Native Plants

Gardens filled with California native plants are not only beautiful, but they are also naturally drought-tolerant, reduce runoff and provide habitat for local critters and pollinators alike. Indigenous plant varieties that you may consider are listed include:

  • Grasses: Deergrass, Sedge, California Fescue, Giant Wildrye, Pacific Reedgrass and more.
  • Pollinators: Desert Lavender Big Berry Manzanita, California Aster, Blue Elderberry, and more.
  • Trees: Coast Live Oak, Valley Oak, White Elder, Creek Dogwood, Torrey Pine, Arroyo Willow, and many more.

See the California Native Plant Society’s for a list of 7,000+ California native plants.

Step 3: Choosing Water-Wise Plants

Water-wise plants, such as varieties of lavender, are excellent choices when considering best ways to drought-proof your yard. Not only is lavender a refreshing fragrance, but varieties also blossom in colors ranging from purple to yellow. Other drought-conscious plants you may consider include succulents like beautiful flowering Dudleya brittonii or Dudleya hassei variety of “Catalina Live-Forever.”

To fill in your canopy area, you may consider the Mexican Palo Verde for its yellow blossoms, or perhaps the Toyon which is a California native evergreen shrub that produces red winter berries and helps with erosion control.

There are a variety of helpful regional websites offering local plant guides and landscaping inspiration for Californians, including from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Regional Water Authority’s in the Sacramento area.

Check out how other California homeowners are upgrading to drought-proof yards on the Save Our Water website.

Show us your #WaterWise yards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by hash-tagging #SaveOurWater.