Drought Tolerant Plants for Modern Landscapes

This week, we continue our series on drought tolerant plants for certain styles of landscape, in partnership with Mooch Exterior Designs. Last week, we explored classic Tuscan plants for Spanish landscapes. This week, we look at how to achieve a modern look without inflating your water bill.

Drought tolerant plants for modern landscapes in San Diego

In addition to selecting the right plants, it’s important to keep in mind that much of the “modern look” of a landscape has to do with the placement of plants. Above: Cape rush and Yucca ‘Color Guard’.

Drought tolerant plants for modern landscapes in San Diego

Use lots of repetition and long lines of plants. Modern landscapes typically do not feature many flowers or too much bright color. Don’t vary height within beds, don’t create a “forest” look or overuse groundcover. Limit your plant palette and stick primarily to greens and blues with a few pops of colors. Above: Stipa (Nasella) tenuissima, Helictotrichon sempervirens and Cyperus papyrus.

Drought tolerant plants for modern landscapes in San Diego

In general, plants for modern landscapes fall into two categories: short, ‘clump’-shaped plants and tall, thin plants. Above, Agave ‘Blue Glow’ and Sansivieria.

Drought tolerant plants for modern landscapes in San Diego

Ornamental grasses make excellent plants for the modern landscape. Most are drought tolerant, without blooms, and there are many evergreen varieties that require very little maintenance. Feather grass, blue fescue and Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster are great options. Feather grass and Calamagrostis fall into the slender, upright category, while blue fescue is a short, clumping grass. Other options, especially for pops of color, are the more broad-leaved cordylines and phormium.

Succulents are great, drought tolerant and offer wonderful geometric and architectural features. Agaves in particular make great features of the modern landscape. Try Agave ‘Blue Glow’, Agave americana or Yucca ‘Color Guard.’

Other upright plants for the modern landscape that are drought tolerant are Cape rush and sansivieria. These structural, slender plants look great against a wall or planted in a long row.

And there you have some great foundations on which to build your modern landscape! Head over to Mooch Exterior Designs’ Modern Portfolio for more inspiration, and stay tuned next week for another round of perfect plants for the Asian landscape!

Author Bio

We are a locally owned and operated retail nursery and garden center based in North Park, San Diego.

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