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Published July 11, 2023
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3 Ways to Create a Drought-Resistant Yard You’ll Love

Adding mulch, choosing native plants and installing alternative ground cover are ways to help your yard flourish without wasting water.

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Lack of rainfall in 2023 has wreaked havoc across Canada and has resulted in the worst wildfire season on record. 

May 2023 saw hotter than average temperatures, leading to nearly half of the country being labelled “abnormally dry or in moderate to extreme drought” by Agriculture Canada

Water restrictions and conservation rules are in place across many parts of Canada, and you may notice that your yard is looking a little worse for wear. 

However, being responsible with water use doesn’t mean that you need to give up on your yard. You may just need to change things up to adapt to this new, warmer and drier normal.

1. Rethink your lawn

Many homeowners have dreams of a lush green lawn. However, grass takes quite a bit of water to grow and maintain. In times of water scarcity and restrictions, it’s really not a practical option for ground cover. Using something different to cover your yard will not only help you save water, but also give your property a more unique look. Alternative ground covers include:

  • Decomposed granite: This aids in irrigation and helps to absorb rain water and filter pollutants.
  • Decorative rocks: These can be used to cover the yard without the need for water or line flower beds and help with drainage issues.
  • Drought-tolerant ground covers: Native plants like silverweed, creeping juniper, Canada mayflower or blue violet allow you to enjoy plant life and greenery in your yard with minimal watering requirements.
  • Artificial turf: If you really want that green grass look with none of the maintenance, artificial turf is the way to go.

2. Add mulch

Mulch retains water and keeps the soil underneath cooler. Not only does this create favourable growth conditions for your plants and hinder the growth of weeds, but it also slows down evaporation, which is ideal during times of drought. 

There are several types of mulch, but for drought-resistance, you should avoid the permanent types. These include sea shells, stones, and rubber mulches since they don’t add anything to the soil. Instead, look for organic mulches that will break down over time and add their own nutrients to the soil and plants. These include straw, wood shavings, grass clippings, bark chips and shredded leaves. 

3. Choose the right plants

Choosing the right plants for your soil type and climate zone is always important, but especially during a drought. One of the best ways to do this is to choose plants that are native to your area. These plants are familiar with the local soil and weather conditions, giving them better odds of survival. 

Nerdy Tip: Visit local garden centres or nurseries to purchase native plants and flowers for your yard. Don’t remove them from the natural landscape, as it could have a negative impact on the ecosystem. 

If you’re struggling to find native plants that suit your style, expand your search to non-native, drought-tolerant plants. While all plants and flowers need water, these plants are known to thrive in hot, dry conditions and can be a great addition to your garden. 

Some examples include:

  • Honeysuckle.
  • Russian sage.
  • Coneflowers.
  • Blanket flowers.
  • Yarrow.
  • Agastache. 
  • Butterfly weed. 
  • Black-eyed Susans.
  • Irises.
  • Lavender.
  • Marigolds.
  • Echinacea.
  • Baby’s Breath.
  • Delphiniums.
  • Sunflowers.
  • Zinnias.

Nerdy Tip: Be cautious when planting something that’s not native to your area, especially if using seeds or clippings that originated outside of the country. Certain non-native plants are classified as invasive species, and planting them could be detrimental to the landscape or even illegal.

Creating a drought-resistant yard you’ll love

In addition to the tips above, a big part of creating a drought-resistant yard is ensuring that you have proper soil that retains moisture and drains well. 

You’ll also want to be mindful of where and how you plant. Every plant or flower has different requirements when it comes to sunlight as well as water. Strategize planting in areas that do get some shade, especially during times of drought, to give your plants and flowers a break from the sun if needed. Shaded areas will help retain moisture better than areas that are full, direct sunlight for the majority of the day. 

Keeping your yard and garden looking lush and beautiful can be difficult at the best of times, but even more so during a drought. So instead of trying to fight the dry conditions, work with them and use them to your advantage to create a yard that will not just survive, but also thrive.


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