Any longtime La Quinta resident can attest that desert living makes gardening something of a challenge, and recent California-wide drought conditions have made matters worse for keeping your property beautiful. Dryness doesn’t have to mean that your hopes of having lush scenery outside your window are dashed – you simply have to take the time to bring in plants that are hardy enough to survive even the toughest desert conditions. These plants are not only drought-tolerant, but are also low-maintenance, and almost all are California natives: meaning that you can keep your garden beautiful while keeping La Quinta’s local ecosystem healthy and in-balance.
Grasses and Your Desert Garden
Natives of more temperate areas usually default to turf grass when the subject of grasses is brought up – however, turf grass is by no means a smart or economical choice for your desert garden. Turf grass is perhaps one of the thirstiest plants in any theoretical garden, and while it may do well in the rainy, cool north, any desert garden that tries to play host to it will wind up being bled dry of moisture.
Turf grass isn’t a wise choice for a La Quinta garden, but does that mean grasses in general should be banished from the premises? By no means. While the task of covering your property should be better-left to mulch, gravel, and stonework, there are many less-thirsty species of grasses that can take turf grass’ place in edging your property, and they can provide a variety of textures and colors that turf grass simply can’t offer. Sheep fescue is a clumping breed of grass that can provide year-round color with its blue-gray tufts, and can also be planted on slopes to decrease water runoff – an essential part of lawn maintenance on properties that are even slightly hilly. For further color, consider planting purple needle grass: its purple spring flowers provide a beautiful accent to any garden, and will mature to golden yellow in the summer heat. For greener tones, plant deergrass for evergreen charm with minimal watering attention.
Florals and Desert Blooms
A simple glance out the window will prove that “desert” absolutely does not mean “barren”. Colors abound in the California desert, and taking a cue from the florals that flourish in these arid climates will help you create a garden that’s truly enviable.
Succulents are the bread and butter of any desert garden: the variety of species and blooms is nothing but staggering, and when it comes to surviving in drought conditions, there’s no plant better. Popular garden breeds are the beavertail cactus and the claret cup cactus: their pink and red blooms last long, and they do best when left to their own devices entirely regarding watering. California-native wildflowers will do well in any garden, given appropriate levels of shading and the correct soil: sages and lavenders add beauty and fragrance, and to attract butterflies to keep your garden blooming strong, plant pollinator-friendly species such as common yarrow, western columbine, lupines, and bush sunflowers. And of course, when it comes to attracting pollinators and keeping your garden healthy, avoid pesticides if at all possible – pollinators are far too vital to the health of your property to risk frightening them away.
A desert garden doesn’t need to be barren when you’re out to save on your water bill – you simply have to do your research and turn to plants that are up to the task of surviving in the La Quinta heat. These plants are more than up to the challenge, and combine beauty and hardiness in a way that will give your property the charm it needs to stand out on the real estate market.