Not all plants appreciate dry, sunny conditions. If you have areas of your yard, or a whole yard, where the sun beats down and the soil dries out quickly, you don't have to resort to planting a rock garden or rely solely on cactus. Choose drought-tolerant flowers and vegetation that love full sun and will thrive on little water.
Heat-tolerant groundcovers can fill in bare spots or be planted where you don't want taller plants to obscure the view of other plantings. Stonecrop (Sedum) is a low-growing, spreading perennial that has lovely blooms in the summer and colorful foliage in fall. Sedum is a good choice to fill in bare spots where you don't want to mow. It works well around stepping stones or in rock gardens.
Iceplant (Delosperma) has gray-green foliage and delicate purple and yellow flowers. Ice plants provide a nice contrast with darker green plants and flowers.
Snow in Summer (Cerastium tomentosum) spreads to cover a wide area. Planted on rock walls, it will cascade over, with white blossoms almost covering the foliage. Even when it isn't blossoming, the gray-green foliage provides an eye-catching contrast to surrounding vegetation.
Salvias and Sage
Members of the salvia and sage family flourish under hot, dry conditions, producing graceful foliage and colorful flowers. Birds and butterflies are attracted to the bright blooms of these plants, while deer and rabbits avoid eating them, making them a good choice in places where wildlife devastate other garden plants. Sages also add fragrance to your garden.
Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) has tall stalks lined with bluish-purple flowers that bloom until the first frost. This is a great background plant and flourishes with little care.
The bright red blossoms of Red Velvet Salvia (Salvia confertiflora) make this plant a hummingbird magnet. The dark green foliage looks attractive against a brick or rock wall.
Wildflowers native to hot, dry climates will also flourish in the sunny, dry spots of your yard. Look for natives to your area.
The red and yellow pinwheels of Blanket Flower (Gallardia aristada) will transform that bare, dry spot in your garden. Plant with the lacy white blooms of Yarrow (Achillea lanulosa), a drought-tolerant plant with an astringent aroma and fern-like foliage.
Wild sunflowers (Helianthus anuus) live up to their names by being sun-loving. Unlike domestic varieties raised for seed, wild sunflowers don't require much water and will thrive in relatively poor soil.