Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Drought has increased in many places. B.C. Canada is where we live, and it’s been terrible for a few years now. In the U.S. California, Oregon, Idaho, Washington, and other states are also dealing with drought and wildfires all summer long. Other places of the world have been dealing with drought for much longer.

Drought here is a new feeling, I grew up here and don’t recall summers being like this. B.C. Canada has always been known for rich forests, rain or snow, and biodiversity. For a couple of summers in a row, we haven’t been able to go camping, enjoy as many beach days or enjoy outdoor adventures as frequently. That’s why we moved back to the mountains, to enjoy all of those things.

A couple of years ago we had a fire right behind our home. Adrian Wager studio caught the time-lapse of it here. 


Wildfires and drought are bad for gardening and homesteading (and general life!) for many reasons:

  • The smoke blocks out the sun reducing the heat that many summer veggies need to ripen.
  • Drought causes a lot of plant stress so many garden veggies and flowers. Some are more drought tolerant like our wildflowers.
  • With drought comes water restrictions reducing your ability to water your garden. Sometimes a vegetables garden is still permitted, or hand watering at certain times. Sometimes it’s possible to use self-watering planters to help during a drought.
  • Not being able to go outside means the weeds take over very quickly. This reduces space for your garden crops to grow and means a lot of catch up work once you can finally get into the garden.
  • It’s depressing. Not being to enjoy the summer is a serious downer. Here in Canada, we’re used to being down for the last stretch of winter. Experiencing this feeling during summer sucks! The sun getting blocked out also creates a really ‘eerie’ feeling, it’s cold and dark during the day which feels strange.
  • Pollination suffers depending on when the wildfires start, often the smoke makes bees lethargic. I grew a lot of flowers for the bees this summer and luckily our garden had a lot, but I did notice reduced squash and pumpkin pollination.

ONE nice thing? The sun and moons are extra red so it’s neat to look at. This isn’t worth all the cons (obviously!).

What’s a garden lover to do?

Having dealt with this for many summers in a row, will I change my garden planning next year? 

Most likely. The heat loving crops definitely suffer. I’ll need to consider mulching a lot more to suppress weeds when I can’t get into the garden. Things like drip irrigation or ollas (Lovely greens shows you how to make some!) might be worth looking into. 

But it looks like I’ll have to change to more I’ll change to more drought tolerant landscaping next year.

Inexpensive Drought Tolerant Landscaping Ideas

Permaculture News shows you a step by step infographic on making your own ollas with clay pots.

Make your own ollas with clay pots

Tree Davis has these tips for your home

Help Your Trees Survive The Drought

Best Drought Resistant Landscaping Plants

  • Spurge
  • Cushion spurge
  • Lavender hidcote
  • Tree mallow
  • Pink toadflax
  • Rose campion
  • Cotton thistle
  • Red leaved rose
  • Common sage
  • Meadow clary
  • Silver mullein
  • Argentinian vervain

Plant choices for drought from Time Space Design

12 Plants For A Drought-Resistance Garden

Have you dealt with gardening in wildfires or drought? What changes have you had to make?

5 thoughts on “Drought Tolerant Landscaping”

  1. I Live in Australia where drought is cyclical and bush fires are usually a given. Having said that, we haven’t had bad fires in NSW for a few years although they are predicting a bad summer this year.
    For the garden, heavy mulching with straw is a necessity, watering in the evening or early morning and going without high water crops such as lettuce is normal as it bolts very quickly Dec – March. The tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants, zucchinis etc do well in these conditions. We live in a temperate climate that isn’t as extreme as out west; our winters in the highlands usually are moist but the last two winters have been without more than a drizzle.
    Sorry you lost your summer. My husband is from NW Ontario and I have spent quite a few winters there. I KNOW what it’s like to long for summer. To be cheated out of it by smoke would be terrible.

  2. So my comment is on the clay pot that is underground. How far does the “weepage” per pot go? I cant imagine far. Throw this dog a bone. Thanks.

  3. We use several ways to save water for our garden. We have a composting toilet. Save water from the roof when we do get rain in a large tank. Water can be saved, if you wash dishes in a pan in the sink. We also run our gray water near our crops. That way, whenever we shower or wash our hands our crops get watered every day. We just make sure not to pot harsh chemicals down our drains.


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