Who wants to lug hoses around all summer? Count on this easy-care garden to shine through dry spells.

A dry garden spot calls for tough plants that can get by without much water. Nature outfitted drought-tolerant plants with a host of special features for survival. For example, sedum's thick, succulent leaves store excess water. The fuzz on lamb's ears slows evaporation from the leaves. Use these and other water-wise selections in this garden plan to create a beautiful display near your home's foundation, along your driveway, or the streetside strip of grass in front of your house. Stocked with low-maintenance plants that thrive in full sun and well-drained soil, this garden is designed to look good, even through extended dry spells.

Low-Water Garden Plan
Credit: Janet Loughrey

Plants for Creating the Low-Water Garden Plan

  • 4 Crested iris (Iris cristata): Zones 4-10
  • 3 Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima): Annual
  • 3 Sedum 'Autumn Joy': Zones 3-10
  • 2 Feather reed grass (Calamagrostis × acutiflora 'Karl Foerster'): Zones 5-9
  • 1 Variegated redtwig dogwood (Cornus alba 'Elegantissima'): Zones 2-9
  • 3 New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Alma Pötschke'): Zones 4-8
  • 1 Spurge (Euphorbia characias): Zones 7-11
  • 1 Money plant (Lunaria annua): Zones 5-9; biennial*
  • 3 Lady's mantle (Alchemilla mollis): Zones 4-7
  • 1 Spotted deadnettle (Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy'): Zones 3-8
  • 2 Shrubby dusty miller (Brachyglottis compacta): Zones 8-11
  • 3 Stonecrop (Sedum cauticola 'Ruby Glow'): Zones 5-9
  • 1 Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'): Zones 4-8
  • 3 Michaelmas daisy (Aster novae-belgii 'Lassie'): Zones 4-8
  • 1 Silver Carpet lamb's-ears (Stachys byzantina 'Silver Carpet'): Zones 4-8

If you aren't able to find the exact cultivars listed above, substitute with others with 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, Japanese barberry has escaped gardens and invaded natural areas across much of the Northeast and Midwest, so you may want to replace the one in this plan with a similarly-sized spirea if you live in these regions.

Low-Water Garden Plan
Credit: Illustration by Mavis Augustine Torke

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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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Comments (3)

Better Homes & Gardens Member
February 2, 2019
Nice plan, but be aware that Japanese Barberry is considered invasive in some states and according to Scientific American, can encourage the proliferation of ticks that carry lyme disease.
Better Homes & Gardens Member
January 25, 2019
I too area! esp Jap Barberry-can grow quite large over time (5ft)
Better Homes & Gardens Member
January 10, 2019
Love the designs but I would never,ever add those ornamental Grasses to fill in: they will take over the entire garden and are extremely hard to get rid of.