A drought-resistant landscape in Pardee Homes’ Brindle Ridge development. Photo courtesy San Diego County Water Authority

With drought conditions facing most of California, the San Diego Water Authority has updated its list of 50 drought-resistant plants to help homeowners plan and update gardens to save water.

The new “Nifty 50” list  includes 50 plants that are attractive, readily available in retail nurseries, non-invasive and easy to maintain. The water authority says the plants typically last for years, fit the scale of residential landscapes and – once established – tolerate drought.

“There are lots of opportunities to trim water use in and around the home,” said Jeff Stephenson, a principal water resources specialist at the water authority. “One important strategy is replacing water-loving plants with varieties that don’t require as much irrigation. The Nifty 50 brochure eases that process by offering a variety of attractive plants that thrive in San Diego County’s semi-arid climate.”

The brochure is periodically updated to reflect changing plant preferences. The latest version includes perennials such as French lavender, groundcover such as trailing lantana, and trees such as sweet bay. The pamphlet also offers tips for reducing the amount of water used on landscapes, whether they are filled with conventional plants or drought-tolerant varieties.

Copies of the guide – complete with full-color photos of each plant – are free at the water authority’s headquarters in Kearny Mesa and at the offices of its 24 member agencies. They also are available at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas and the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, both of which display several of the highlighted plants.

The guide is also available online at WaterSmart.org.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.