Lawn to Drought Resistant Perennials in 7 Easy Steps

How easy can it be to convert your lawn to drought resistant perennials? It is easier than you think. Just follow our method using these 7 easy steps and avoid back-breaking work like digging up your lawn and hauling it away.




1.       Check your local county, city, and water district for rebate programs

2.       Buy or create a new water-wise plant design

3.       Purchase plants

4.       Change out your lawn sprinkler irrigation system

5.       Kill your lawn safely and organically, and save your back

6.       Dig holes and plant

7.       Mulch and water. Continue watering as needed until plants are established

 

1.       Check your local county, city, and water district for rebate programs

Many local water districts around California offer rebates for removing your lawn and replacing it with drought-tolerant plants. Before you begin, check your local area for rebate programs. Often, a representative from the water district will do an inspection at your property before you start the process. A program will typically offer you a refund on purchased material such as plants, compost, mulch, etc. The cost of labor is typically not reimbursed. Some programs only reimburse the cost of plants. Keep your receipts. Note that rebate programs usually last until funding runs out. Check your local water district for details. We provide an incomplete list of rebate programs around the state that you can check for your water district.

2.       Buy or create a new water-wise plant design

Keeping in mind your zone, soil type, sun, shade, and slope conditions, pick a plant design that uses water-wise plants to suit your preferences such as color and style. We provide detailed guidance on determining your local environment, and provide you with a worksheet you can use in this process. Click here for instructions and to get the worksheet.

3.       Purchase plants

Use our nursery lists to find one near you, or order online. Sometimes it might take a few weeks to locate the plants you want, so plan ahead.

4.       Change out your lawn sprinkler irrigation system

Most lawns already have overhead sprinkler systems installed. This implies that the existing irrigation pipes can be converted to more suitable systems such as micro-sprinklers or soaker hose. Alternately, you can also water by hand for 1-2 summers since the goal is to use plants that will need no summer water after the establishment period. To read a more detailed guide on irrigation systems, click here.

5.       Kill your lawn safely and organically, and save your back

The most effective way to simultaneously kill the lawn and add organic amendments to your soil is to follow our “organic sheet-mulching” technique. This is a lot better than digging up your grass laboriously and hauling it to the dump. A quick rundown of the technique is: water well, mow the grass close, and spread: grass clipping, 5 sheets of regular newspaper, chicken manure, compost, and 3-4” of mulch. You are now ready to dig planting holes. For further details, click here.

6.       Dig holes and plant

Dig pockets of planting holes directly in the newspaper and compost. Place the plants high in the hole. The crown of the plant must be a few inches higher than the surrounding soil. Use the existing native soil for the planting hole, and water each layer well to settle the soil. Note that the soil and compost will settle lower. Keep the crown (the topmost part of the root) just at or above the soil level. For detailed planting instructions of native plants, click here.

7.       Mulch and water. Continue watering as needed until plants are established

Once planting is done, 3-4" of mulch is essential. This helps moisture retention, helps suppress weeds, and insulates young roots from temperature swings. Keep mulch 4-6" away from the base of the plant to keep the crown dry and disease-free. Click here to read our detailed mulching guide.
After mulching, give each planting hole a good soak with a hose. Depending on the season, return to water the new plants when the top 3-6 inches or so of the soil is dry. The key to long-lasting, good looking plants is correct watering, or not watering, in the case of California natives. For a detailed guide to watering California native plants, click here.







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