Even if you don’t live in a dry climate, this collection of plants will save you time and money you would otherwise spend on watering thirstier varieties.

By Viveka Neveln
Updated December 02, 2020
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Not all plants need regular watering to look gorgeous, as the vibrant mix of drought-tolerant perennials, annuals, trees, and shrubs in this water-wise garden plan proves. They'll provide plenty of colorful flowers and lush foliage throughout the growing season, even if rainfall gets a little skimpy in your area. Plus, this design uses the trick of planting everything close together to make sure there's no open ground that will dry out faster in the summer sun. You can also complement the planting with a fountain or pool, which will add a cooling effect no matter how hot and dry the weather gets.

flower garden water fountain
Credit: Peter Krumhardt

Plants for Creating the Drought-Tolerant Garden Plan

  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia 'Munstead'): Zones 5-8
  • 2 Aspen (Populus spp.): Zones 2-8
  • 2 Maidengrass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Silberfeder'): Zones 4-9
  • 2 Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): Zones 6-9
  • 10 Hardy ice plant (Delosperma cooperi): Zones 8-10
  • 9 Cosmos (Cosmos sulfureus): Annual
  • 20 Johnny-jump-up (Viola tricolor): Zones 4-8
  • 15 Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima 'Minima'): Annual
  • 20 Thyme (Thymus serpyllum 'Minor' and Thymus lanuginosus): Zones 4-9
  • 7 Blue fescue (Festuca glauca 'Sea Urchin'): Zones 4-8
  • 6 Siberian iris (Iris sibirica 'Caesar's Brother'): Zones 3-8
  • 6 Red-hot poker (Kniphofia 'Maid of Orleans'): Zones 6-9
  • 3 Pincushion flower (Scabiosa columbaria 'Pink Mist'): Zones 3-8
  • 3 Lily (Lilium 'Imperial Silver'): Zones 3-9
  • 1 Sedum 'Autumn Joy': Zones 3-10
  • 2 Speedwell (Veronica liwanensis): Zones 4-9
  • 2 Cup flower (Nierembergia spp.): Zones 7-10
  • 1 Sacred datura (Datura meteloides): Zones 10-11
  • 5 Lavandin (Lavandula intermedia): Zones 5-8
  • 1 Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum): Zones 4-7
  • 1 Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis 'Arp'): Zones 8-10

If you aren't able to find the exact cultivars listed above, substitute with others that have similar colors, shapes, and sizes. And because some plants can become overly aggressive and spread out of control in certain climates, always check which species are considered invasive in your area before planting. For example, Miscanthus can become weedy in some areas of the country, but this is usually less problematic when planting a cultivar like 'Silberfeder' in this plan.

Get the Free Drought-Tolerant Garden Plan

The garden plan for this design includes an illustrated version of the planted garden, a detailed layout diagram, a list of plants for the garden as shown, and complete instructions for installing the garden. Free, one-time registration allows unlimited access to all garden plans, available as printable PDFs.

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