Drought tolerant landscaping is very important in California during a drought because it allows you to have a beautiful landscape without wasting a lot of water. Drought tolerant landscapes can be a combination of cacti, succulents, Native plants, and deep rooted hybrids. Many drought tolerant plants are flowering whereas others are green carpets. Most native plants of California are drought tolerant because California has a history over the last 100 years having periods of drought every 7-8 years. In contrast to shallow rooted plants (Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas) that need frequent watering for normal growth, drought tolerant plants are mostly deep rooted, sending roots deep into the earth to find water.
Creating a drought-tolerant lawn
Lawns use the most water in landscapes because they are shallow rooted, therefore, during drought, it's best to replace lawns with low growing ground covers (e.g. Cotoneaster, Prostrate Rosemary, Erigeron, etc.). Plants can be planted close together, so they grow together more quickly, or spaced farther apart (less plants, less money). If you plant farther apart, mulches can be spread in between plants, preventing weed growth and conserving moisture. Mulches can be of different types, organic decomposed green waste or decorative gravels (different colors and pebble sizes).
What kinds of plants are drought-tolerant?
Examples of drought tolerant Native plants are Manzanita, Ceanothus, Aesculus (Horse Chesnut), Douglas Iris, Quercus agrifolia, Arbutus, etc. Examples of cultivated hybrids that are drought tolerant are Lavender, Escallonia, Phormium (New Zealand Flax), Angiozanthos (Kangaroo Paws), Leucadendron, Lomandra, many clumping grass varieties, etc. All succulents, e.g. Jade plant, Aloe, Agave, and any other fleshy leaved plant, store water in their leaves and need very little water to grow. Any of these plants will grow well in the San Mateo area.
San Mateo Cactus Landscaping
The most drought tolerant plants are Cacti. Large-leaved plants lose water rapidly when it’s hot. Cacti, being mostly rounded, have less surface area compared to leaves, therefore less area for evaporation. Generally the hotter and drier the landscape, the smaller native plants’ leaves are.
Drought tolerant landscapes can also be simply decorative rock gardens, using differently sized, shaped, and colored rocks. For example, you could use large boulders (3'-4'), smaller rocks, and gravel with no plants at all, using no irrigation. Plants with hardscape soften the look and make the landscape look cooler. Some people prefer a desert look with hardscape and a few cacti that you water once a month. Basically, as you can see, there are many variations of drought tolerant landscapes. Please see the photo gallery for picture examples.