Garden design should be richly textured, colorful and useable. Try using native plants to keep water use low and mixing varieties to encourage local wildlife to become regulars.
Help Rainfall Reach the Soil with Permeable Paving
Typical paving stones, concrete and other hard materials can make it difficult for rainwater to reach the soil underneath. By using a permeable paving stone or material you're allowing the water to seep through to the soil below. Another option is smaller pavers with gaps that allow water runoff. Some options include gravel and decomposed granite.
Imagine Your Garden In Each Season
When planning your garden design you'll be looking at many beautiful plants. If you choose natives that only bloom in the spring, how will your garden look in the summer and fall? Try to incorporate different plants that flower in the various seasons to keep your garden full of color and beauty.
Plant Trees to Help Reduce the Loss of Moisture for Plants
Shade-tree planting is a very underutilized water-conservation technique. Not only are people cooler under leafy canopies, but plants under trees will need less water because the shade lowers air and soil temperatures. This helps reduce the loss of moisture. In addition to water conservation, properly placed trees can reduce air-conditioning costs up to 40 percent, according to Southern California Edison.
Replace the Lawn with a More Interesting Garden
Did you know that during the growing season a grass lawn can require as much as 1" of water every week? That might not sound like a lot, but depending on the size of your lawn it can be a hefty price. A wide variety of plants and foliage can create a beautiful and pleasing garden landscape giving you something different than your neighbors. Try adding a mixture of evergreen shrubs for year-round structure and seasonal color, grassy foliage plants for year-round structure and appeal, and perennials to add color.
Lawn Lovers, Don't Despair!
Native natural grasses can live on rainfall alone and might need to be mowed once or twice a year to keep from getting unruly. Grasses are native in the Western ranges and depend on your region. If you live in the desert try a fine fescue or spring-planted buffalo grass, or hair grass in the Northwest, or blue grama in the Rocky Mountain region, or the 'UC Verde' buffalo grass along the coast of Southern California.
As you can see you won't lose the look of lawn, but you will definitely see a loss in the water usage needed to keep your lawn green and beautiful all year round.
Source: Sunset Magazine