Planning Your Landscape to Conserve Water

Carrie T. Stevenson
Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Faculty
Escambia County
ctsteven@ufl.edu

Water conservation in a landscape is important all of the time, whether in the midst of hurricane season or during serious droughts. One way to save water is by selecting plants that suit your site. This principle is called "right plant, right place." By selecting plants whose needs match the conditions of your landscape, you'll save yourself money and effort. Putting the right plant in the right place involves more than placing a sun-loving plant in a sunny spot or a shade-lover in a shady spot. You also need to consider other site conditions such as soil pH and plant needs such as water.

A drought-tolerant landscape at the University of West Florida is not only beautiful, but conserves water. Photo Credits: Carrie Stevenson, Escambia County

Drought-tolerant plants are adapted to regions with frequent drought, or to soils with low water-holding capacity (such as sand). Once established, they can be water-wise additions to a landscape—but not if they’re planted in low-lying areas where water tends to pool. In these conditions, they can quickly succumb to root diseases and other pest problems. These plants tend to thrive in elevated dry or windy spots, exposed areas, along unshaded southern and western walls of buildings, and other hot, dry places. Many of our native beach/dune plants are good examples of drought-tolerant plants that will also do well in a home landscape. Save the low spots, water-adjacent areas, and places with poor drainage for plants that love moist conditions.

For a detailed list of Florida-friendly plants and their drought tolerance, sun/shade conditions, and other specifications, visit http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/materials/list.pdf or try the plant database at www.floridayards.org.

Information courtesy University of Florida/IFAS