In our third year of drought in the Sierra foothills, we search for ways to allow our gardens to survive. Here, you’ll see how to make your garden thrive! Learn which plants to grow, how to water and how to preserve that water once it’s in the soil. Included is a print and keep ‘ideal’ plant list.
Number one: Plant the right plants
Mediterranean climate has rain in the Winter and no rain in the Summer. Such a climate is rare on our planet. In addition to parts of California, it only exists in some places in the Mediterranean, in South Africa, and in parts of Chile and Australia. Those places have plants that are adapted to at least six months of dryness.
Mediterranean plants will feel right at home here. In reality, the most drought tolerant plants are usually the native plants of your area.
- Plant in zones…group sun loving plants together with shade lovers under the oaks ad pines (but ten ft away from the trunks) Place plants that need more water nearest the house.
- Water only before dawn and after dusk to reduce water loss due to evaporation and wind
Drip systems made simple:
- Arrange the drip hose in a circle around a flower or shrubbery bed.
- Attach flow regulator and a timer and connect the hose to a water faucet.
- Fold the end over and attach the ‘figure eight’ drip hose end.
- Assemble drip sprayers with a stake, a riser and a sprayer tip.
- Attach in evenly spaced intervals along the hose with thin tubing and connectors
- Maintain sprinklers, valves and pipes. A broken spray sprinkler wastes 10 gallons per minute or 100 gallons in a typical 10 minute watering cycle.
Think about adding a dripper to your birdbath!
- Deep watering, less often,…the exact opposite that many schedule their irrigation.
- Place a 2- or 3-inch layer of mulch over bare dirt to reduce water evaporation, improve the soil, and help control weeds. Weed seeds cannot germinate without sunlight. Each year, I turn mine under and add new for better and better soil.
- Replace lawn areas with paths and ‘water-smart’ groundcovers, trees and shrubs whenever possible.
Give your trees a deep watering with a hose about every two weeks. If you lose your lawn, it’s not the end of the world, but if you lose a tree, you’ve lost years of a shade canopy, and a nice wildlife habitat.
Discover succulents! Succulents saved me when we’d travel and my patio pots suffered. I had tried annuals, then perennials and finally had success with succulents. The only caution, make sure they are at least Zone 6 or cold hardy to 10 degrees OR see what your neighbor can grow. Great for pots and in the ground.
Some cold hardy succulents are sedum, echeveria, aloe, sempervivum, agave, yucca and graptosedum.
An ideal list of plant perfect for the Sierra foothills
If you stick to this list, you’ll have the most easy care, unthirsty and colorful garden ever!
Rosemary, upright and prostrate
Rockrose, Orchid and Sunset
Santolina, grey and green
Salvia, Autumn sage, Blue oak sage
Hummingbird mint, Agastache
More Ideal plants for the Sierra Foothills
Our climate is typical Mediterranean where summers are dry and winters wet. We’re having the driest Spring since 1895, so drought tolerant plants and good watering practices will be key this summer.
PRINT and keep this list! All these plants thrive in my garden,…we have deer,…lots of deer.
Covering the ground (To prevent weeds)
Germander (Teucrium), sun to part shade
Snow in Summer, sun to part shade
Creeping thyme, sun
Lamb’s Ears, sun to part shade
True geranium, part shade
Creeping sage, ‘Bee’s Bliss’
The big guns
’Sunset’ Rockrose, sun to part shade
Wild lilac, (ceanothus) creeping form, sun
Pyracantha, (Firethorn) pinned to the ground and pruned, sun
What to plant under oaks and pines. (4-5ft from the trunk)
Iris, sun to part shade
Coral bells (Heuchera), part shade
Western Sword fern, part shade
Bergenia, sun to part shade
Bugleweed (Ajuga), sun to part shade
St John’s Wort, sun to part shade
Foxglove, part shade
Rhododendrons, Azaleas, part to open shade
Campanula (Bellflower), part shade
Penstemon, sun to part shade
Abelia, ‘Kaleidoscope’ and ‘Frances Mason’
Some plants may be new to you!
Santolina, grey and green, sun
Wild lilac (Ceanothus), all forms, sun
Wallflower, sun to part shade
Russian sage, sun
Butterfly bush (Buddleia), sun
Euphorbia, gopher repeller! sun to part shade
Artemisia, Dusty Miller, most herbs
Standbys: Lavender, rosemary, rockrose
Box Elder, sun
Redbud, part shade
Japanese maple, part shade