Friday, September 11, 2015

12 Ways We Use Every Drop of Water in Our DIY California Garden Design

Tracking Pixel

If you are living in California or anywhere that is experiencing a drought, or just want to save water, this week we have a really great sponsored post for you from Scotts® EveryDrop™ which helps to hydrate plants and turf in the most extreme conditions.

As most of you know, extreme conditions are a reality here in California,  I've lived in Southern California for 19 years and watched the weather patterns change drastically from my first year drenched with the downpours and flooding of El Nino...
to this catastrophic drought that is scorching my front yard among other more major environmental problems. One thing I've learned is that a drought doesn't necessarily mean you to have an ugly dead lawn as a front yard.

When my husband and I bought this house 6 years ago, we knew we wanted to change the weed filled front lawn to a desert-like, drought tolerant garden. I'd like to think we knew what we were doing, but I may have just been being practical and frugal. Either way I'm so excited that our garden is almost done, barely uses any water, and it was a DIY job on a very small budget with a lot of it for free!

12 Inexpensive and Free Steps to a California Drought Tolerant Garden

1. Shrink or eliminate your lawn.

Cut back the lawn so it is only in areas where kids and pets play. Pebbles make a great replacement for a front lawn. If it is not in the budget, many cities offer mulch for free! 

We didn't need a lawn in our front yard and it was going to take far too much water to irrigate, so we dug up our front yard, put weed barrier topped with pebbles instead. You can see the progress of the front yard on our blog and check out lots more ideas here.

2. Plant drought tolerant trees for shade.

We planted an Olive tree in our front yard. It is a Dwarf Arborosa and we had no clue olive oil is so difficult to make but they are gorgeous trees, and they don't drink much water. Ours mainly gets watered when I clean and rinse my blender from smoothies. Trees apparently like green smoothies, too.

3. Make the most of available water in your design.

Although we can't really rely on rain here in SoCal, we live downhill from our neighbors who water their lawn and rosebushes. Our Sticks-of-fire may be growing quite tall from this boost so we've decided to add the cuttings all along the side for privacy.

4. Install a patio or path.

We filled up quite a bit of space on our front "lawn" with a decorative patio. We don't really have any use for it besides an attractive display from our office and a nice place to take pictures but my husband built it himself and you don't have to water it! He also created a stone path that will end up costing way less than all the water and maintenance this space would cost over the years and it gives us mega-curb appeal.

5. Utilize Available shade.

If there is already a tree that is on the property, this may be perfect place to relocate thirsty plants where a little water can go a long way. Otherwise, leave the wilting water-hungry ones next to the house for better odds of survival.

6. Add native plants, drought tolerant succulents, cactus, grass etc.

All of the succulents in our garden were cuttings, gifts, or just one or two plants we picked up when we started designing our garden meaning they were almost all free! Our Sticks-of-fire which are starting to dominate our landscape in their big and colorful display came from one six inch pot from the hardware store. Now we have a group of about 30 ready to plant we hardly ever water them.

7. Dig down a little deeper and create beds for plants.

We try to make a little indentation where the top of the soil of the potted plant is a little lower than the dirt level of the place we are putting it. This way, water pools up and all goes to the plant's roots. We cover these with weed barrier and rocks and directly water onto the base of plants that need it by hand from reuse water and it's surprisingly fun, free, easy, and water that would have otherwise have gone down the drain.

8. Give your plants and laws the best possible care.

Healthy plants and lawns that are fertilized, fed well, get optimal light will make the best use of their water. A product like Scotts® EveryDrop™ can be spread on lawns and landscapes and will maximize the amount of water used. It is designed to help with runoff from rain or sprinklers to help you use 25 percent less water on  and still get the same results.

9. Plant and transplant during cooler months only.

We are waiting until it cools off to do some relocating and adding to our design out front. Transplanted or new plants will not require as much water as they establish themselves during the Winter and Spring in California. Some plants will die if you try to transplant them and don't give them the right amount of water while they establish themselves.

10. Capture running or rinse water for watering plants

We use empty plastic kitty litter containers to capture clean rinse water from the sink and from the shower as it heats up. I know there are systems for this but if you want to do this for free this is an easy way to go. Just fill your container to what you or someone mightier than you can carry. Kids LOVE to water plants so fill up some smaller containers and make them responsible for some herbs on the patio or something!

11. Install rain barrels

We don't have rain barrels because it never rains. Right now, as this article is written we having our rotted, termite ravaged roof replaced just in time for another El Nino to come. For those that have not experienced El Nino, you may want to think about installing rain barrels at the very least, if not checking your roof and preparing for an over-abundance of the wet stuff.

12. Toss out some poppy seeds!

California's State Flower is the California Poppy. It is a native species that gets it's name from the "pop" of their seeds. They pretty much spread themselves everywhere and turns out they really really like their native, desert soil so they give us a fresh, wild, and creative display every year for a few months and cost only a few bucks for seed packs at the garden store. They survive on very little to no water here!

*BONUS* 13. Start a worm bin or a compost.

If you can get past the icky factor, worm bins and compost not only keep your food scraps out of the compost but they make rich, fertilized soil that feeds your plants and helps their roots hold onto water. We love also love this because this type of fertilizer is free!

We've learned a lot from putting in our drought tolerant garden and it is not only living through this hot summer and dry year, but it is flourishing. So far, we have not used anything but available water, reclaimed water, and products like Scotts® EveryDrop™ to maximize water and we didn't spend too much!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® EveryDrop™. Visit their site for tons more water-saving gardening ideas, pictures and tips.

Follow #TheTravelsOfFamilyD on Instagram @MommyOnTheMoney


  1. Thank you for sharing this and that sounds like a great product! We should all make sure not to waste water in any part of the world.

  2. beauty & sustainability. a good combo. (:

    xo | ❀

  3. thanks for sharing love the garden love the flowers look so nice

  4. wow thanks for this! helps saves money and it looks very beautiful

  5. Wow, your yard looks beautiful! Nice tips to save water.

  6. I grew up in Southern CA and now I live in drought vulnerable CO so I know the challenges. Your yard is gorgeous!

  7. Great plan that all should strive for!

  8. Eliminating the lawn is the best solution one can get! I so admire your determination. Many people can't give up their lawn.

  9. thanks for sharing It seems the last few years I have lost a lot of loved plants who cant handle the heat and lack of rain so theres some great ideas here

  10. Your ideas for a sustainable yard are very good and everything turned out to look great. I don't have a green thumb, but planted 2 mountain laurels in front of my bay window 20 years ago and every April and May they were so beautiful. My neighbor cut them both down to the rim of the window sills 3 years ago because she said they blocked her view into my house. They both died. She just turned 90 this year so all I said to her was that I wished she hadn't done that. Maybe I will plant more this spring.

  11. I love those flower photos and the ideas of growing.
    Very beautiful place :)

  12. I love the flowers they are so pretty :)

  13. Beautiful garden! A lot of perennials do well with little water.

  14. Such a beautiful garden. Such an awesome post since you all are trying to accomplish something. That is so awesome and so important!

  15. Great post with some amazing ideas. Just a heads up, San Diego and LA are offering a $75 rebate for each rain barrel you purchase. Perfect for the upcoming rains they are predicting

  16. These are some great tips not only for California but wherever you live. I can tell you have done alot of research on this. Thank you so much for sharing


Thanks for the comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...