With the global focus on water conservation, landscapers are turning to drought-tolerant grasses and ground covers in their designs. Within any given landscape, grass is typically the plant that requires the most water. Drought-tolerant grasses need only a fraction of the water of regular grasses. Ground cover plants can also be drought tolerant. Once established, drought-tolerant ground covers require almost no supplemental watering. With so many drought-tolerant grasses and ground covers to choose from, make sure the plants you choose are appropriate for the area in which they'll be placed.
Drought-tolerant plants and grasses have the ability to survive in dry conditions for several weeks without supplemental watering. Native plants and grasses from dry regions have adapted to drought-like conditions, and protect themselves by dropping their leaves, folding their leaves up to avoid sun, redirecting the angle of their leaves to stave off direct sunlight, or storing water.
There are several drought-tolerant grasses which, once established, need water as infrequently as once a month. Tall fescue, bahiagrass and Bermuda grass are three common drought-tolerant grasses. These grasses thrive in full sun, and suffer when overwatered. They grow vigorously in the hot months, requiring frequent mowing.
Drought-tolerant grass has several benefits. The most obvious is water conservation and lowering water bills. In areas where water is sparse, these grasses thrive, and help keep the soil from drying out. Because drought-tolerant grasses have deep root systems (up to 8 feet) they are successful at preventing erosion. Hills and embankments remain stable and solid when carpeted with drought-tolerant grass.
There are dozens of ground covers that display drought tolerance. Juniper, liriope, thyme, and ivy are just a few. Because ground covers reach only about 12 inches in height, and spread laterally, once established, they perform much like grass. Unlike grass, ground covers do not require mowing, and may have attractive foliage or blooms.
Drought-tolerant ground covers and grasses diminish erosion. They are often used on hillsides or berms. Another benefit is when planted in bare areas, drought-tolerant ground covers hold down the loose dirt that would otherwise fly in windy conditions. Perfect for use in areas of little rain, these plants stay green and healthy for weeks without additional watering.