5 Inspiring Dought Tolerant Gardens

Living in Southern California and talking about the outdoors means bringing up the question of water usage and how much we can actually allot to keeping our gardens alive. As we've all heard, a lawn takes an enormous amount of water to maintain, but figuring out how to use drought tolerant plants might conjure images of your grandparents' cactus garden in Arizona. In reality, drought tolerant and native gardens can actually be quite lush. Take for instance these 5 from this year's Theodore Paine Garden Tour.

Theodore Paine is a nursery in Sunland that has specialized in cultivating and teaching people about Southern California native plants, ecosystems and habitats. For close to 50 years they've been committed to promoting and restoring California landscapes. They offer classes to adults and children, they propogate indigenous species of plants that thrive with little water and they sell it all out of their expansive nursery. The foundation was started by Mr. Theodore Paine, a brit, who upon moving to Los Angeles in 1893 fell in love with the native habitat and eventually dedicated his life to its preservation. His plants helped fill out Los Angeles' Exposition Park, Descanso gardens and the Botanic Garden at CalTech.

Now each year they host a garden tour that highlights residential gardens that are committed to planting native species and overall drought tolerant outdoor spaces. These 5 are from this past April's Tour (follow their links for plant species names and details):

1. Santa Monica Residence: "This 7500 sq. ft. eclectic and fun garden is divided into four “rooms,” including a mountain and desert area, complete with teepee, small “river” and grape arbor."
2. Torrance Residence: A huge native mallow gives this garden a focal point.
3. Alta Dena Residence: "Coastal sage scrub, woodland and riparian plants populate this small, charming, five-year-old front garden, designed by its owners. A rustic footbridge crosses a dry stream bed."
4. Santa Monica Residence: Using gravel paths and native plants, this garden has private 'moments' in the garden and has in intimate feeling with high growing grasses and shrubs.
5. Eage Rock Residence: This hillside backyard incorporates native and non native species along with smart use of hardscape to minimize planted areas without creating huge swaths of concrete.

Read more about him and the Theodore Paine Foundation right here.