“I would definitely say that the trend is toward people taking out their lawns and putting in something that looks nice and takes less water,” said Abbie Villasenor, who works at Eden Plains Nursery in Brentwood. “It used to be that people were taking out their lawns because of the water issue, but now a lot of people also do it because it’s less maintenance and work.”
If your dream is to create an outdoor environment that’s low-maintenance yet in constant bloom, a combination of annuals (plants that stay green all year) and perennials (the flowers die and come back) is your best gardening bet.
Many annual options include shrubs and ground covers that grow fast, bloom in abundance and stay green year-round. Popular picks include escollonia (an evergreen with pink flowers that grows to a height of four feet) and heavenly bamboo (a shrub displaying white flowers and red berries). Indian hawthorn is a low-maintenance, drought-resistant pink and white flowering shrub that grows well in most climates.
Succulents – known as “fat plants” for their water-retention properties – are also popular. The most well-known varieties are cactus and aloe, but the fast-spreading and brilliantly colored portulaca plant is also a perfect example of an annual succulent.
“Succulents are pretty and they don’t take much water,” said Villasenor. “They’re good, hardy plants that grow almost anywhere.”
As for perennials, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing the plants and shrubs that are right for your garden. And if you’re looking to replace that lawn with ground cover, verbena (famous for its purple and pink flowers) and lantana (also in a variety of colors) are two excellent choices for fast growth, year-round flowers and hearty constitutions. Agapantha – or lily of the Nile – is also a popular perennial, as is the beautiful hydrangea, although it requires more shade than some of the other shrubs.
And don’t forget the bulbs.
“Accent items such as irises or tulips or any kind of bulb are nice additions,” said Villasenor. “Because they pop up in the spring and add a splash of color.”
But for those looking for a design that requires even less maintenance, there are other options. “The bark and rocks are very popular,” said Villasenor. “Another thing that’s popular is the mound look with moss boulders. It kind of creates a creek bed effect with plants accented along the edges. It’s very pretty and a bit different.”
So whether it’s a perennials-only yard, annuals-alike garden or a combination of the two, the perfect outdoor environment is the one that ultimately best fits your sense of style – and lifestyle.