In Southern California we have been in a drought for the past several years, and even in a good year we do not get much rain.
If you own a home in a drought prone area an easy way to reduce your consumption is to replace water hogging plants with plants that are healthy and look beautiful with little water.
These plants should do well over most of the Southwest, but might not work in areas that get any more than a very light frost or significant rainfall.
Shrubs and vines are an important but often overlooked part of every garden. They usually provide a greener softer look than plain fencing at the boundary between our yard and our neighbors. They are also better noise absorbers than fencing alone would be. The bushes on this list might go in front of a fence or be used in leiu of a fence. The vines could grow on a fence or trelis, or fill in established bush adding contrasting leaves and flowers.
1. Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea) are a family of vigorous growing vines with year round vibrant pink, purple, or white flowers. The woody trunks that develop can support the plant. However, they do tend to have an extremely irregular habit unless you are vigilant in pruing. Bougainvillea have very sharp thorns on the trunk, so be very careful around this beauty.
2. Jasmine Bush (Jasminum dichotomum or Jasminum sambac) the dense bush forms of jasmine are common throughout Southern Califonia for good reason. They are an easy bush to grow, and they have a pretty white flower with a beautiful fragrance. It’s probably best to buy this from a local nursery to get a plant that is suitable for your specific climate.
3. Jasmine Vine or Star Jasmine (Jasminum multiflorum or Jasminum polyanthum) the vine forms of jasmin tend to be faster growing then the bush forms, and the and they produce even more of those heavenly smelling flowers. A true vine, you will need to give this plant some support.
4. Honeysuckle (Lonicera) the only bad thing about jasmine vine is that so many people grow it. If you want an alternate, that is just as sweet smelling but different from jasmine why not try homeysuckle. There are many many varietuies of honeysuckly, so this is another plant you might want to pick up at your local nursery to get somethig that is adapted to your area.
5. Gardenia (gardenia) Gardenia are a large family of flowering shrubs with very showy white or yellow flowers. This plant has the showiest flowers on this list, but would also need more care and water than the others. Many forms are available, check your local nursery for what does well in your area.
6. Oleander (Nerium oleander) oleander is a fast growing bush that will form a nice hedge with pink or white flowers. This plant is very toxic, so do not plant it where children or pets would come into regular contact with it.
7. Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) jade plant will form a hedge given enough time to establish. While not the fastest grower or always thickest habit, this plant needs very little water and has a beautifully distinctive look.