Finally! People in Southern California are catching on about the ridiculousness of having a lawn... and needing to water it. I wanted to help you avoid the mistakes I made in planting a grass-free, truly drought-tolerant landscape by focusing in on these beauties that won’t steer you wrong.
1. My first choice has to be the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Besides being the state flower, it is truly a tough but beautiful flowering plant native to our region and adapted to our climate, which inherently does well and attracts butterflies and birds.
You can get away with watering it once a month, or less in the “rainy season,” whatever that is.
What’s more, it does well with sandy soils and intense sunlight
It gives you huge bang for your buck, as it quickly reproduces and spreads new plants in your garden on its own
It’s pretty cool watching the flowers curl up for the night and unfurl each morning
2. Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) is a close second, although I get conflicting
information about this attractive, wispy grass - It is federally listed as native to California and the U.S. Southwest, however is also described as having invasive tendencies since it can out-compete other natives and self-seeds, spreading quickly. However, I picked it for its ability to withstand harsh climate conditions and still look so soft and luxurious in a home garden in place of a water-sucking lawn.
3. The 'Sticks on Fire' / Red Pencil Tree (Euphorbia tirucalli) rounds out the top 3, since it is visually stunning through its radiant color and interesting texture.
This is a very hardy succulent that can take anything the climate throws at it
Requires only infrequent watering
It is NOT a California, but rather Madagascar
Be warned it can be toxic to your child, dog, or cat if they decide to chew on it
4. Trailing Lantana / Lantana (Lantana camara and Lantana montevidensis) are a favorite of mine for their YEAR ROUND, brightly-blooming puffy flowers. These are native to South America, but do well in sandy/rocky soils with full or partial sun.
These are mega butterfly and hummingbird attractors
Require a low amount of water
Come in a variety of colors that pop
Just want to reiterate that the flowers bloom year round, which is the best part.
5. Blue chalk sticks (Senecio mandraliscae) have a unique blue hue that pops against most other
plants, and are seriously tough, but unique-looking succulent from the sunflower family, that hails from South Africa.
It’s a spreading succulent that grows fairly quickly for its type
It has a unique shape, texture, and color
Is great for ground cover and boarders
Can take full sun but requires little water
Enjoy and get to plantin'!!! :)