With news of water shortages looming, Calgary is urging residents to limit water consumption. As a resident interested in sustainable landscaping, it’s time to get strategic about plant choices. Drought resistant plants are the ideal solution to maintain your curb appeal without draining precious resources. 

This guide will cover xeriscaping and choosing plants that will thrive in Calgary’s dry spell. With the right selections, you can sustain a premium oasis without excess water usage.

What Is A Xeriscape And How Do You Design One?

A thriving xeriscape garden with a variety of colorful succulents, ornamental grasses, and rocks, showcasing the beauty of drought-tolerant landscaping.

Xeriscaping refers to landscaping with drought resistant plants to reduce water usage. As Calgary braces for an impending drought this year, Xeriscaping is an eco-friendly solution residents should consider to conserve this precious resource.

Choose Drought Resistant Plants

The secret to a thriving xeriscape garden lies in choosing plants that flourish with minimal water. Some excellent options for Calgary include:

  1. Native grasses like blue grama grass and buffalo grass have deep root systems that help them access groundwater. 
  2. Perennials like lavender, catmint, and sedum produce colourful flowers and foliage with minimal watering once established. 
  3. Succulents, cacti, and yucca also do well, storing water in their leaves and stems.

Group Plants By Water Needs

Placing plants that share the same needs for sunlight and water together in your garden simplifies upkeep significantly. Put drought resistant plants that need full sun in one area, shade plants in another, and so on. This way you can tailor watering to the specific needs of each section.

Use Mulch

Applying a layer of mulch around your plants is beneficial for maintaining soil moisture for an extended period. In xeriscape gardens, utilizing organic materials like wood chips and bark chips proves to be efficient. It is advisable to distribute the mulch around the base of the plants, ensuring a depth of 2 to 3 inches. To maintain even coverage, replenish the mulch as needed.

Limit Turf Grass

The more turf grass you have, the more watering and mowing will be required. Limit grass to functional areas of your yard and replace excess lawn space with drought resistant plants and hardscaping. Pavers, gravel, stone, and boulders are attractive alternatives to thirsty grass.

With some planning, you can have an attractive, low-maintenance xeriscape garden. Choosing the right plants, using mulch, and grouping them effectively will help your garden thrive even during Calgary’s driest summers. Focusing on drought resistant species and limiting turf grass is key to reducing your garden’s water needs in an eco-friendly way.

What Are The Top 5 Drought Resistant Plants For Calgary Gardens?

Several potted lavender plants with vibrant purple blooms displayed on a rustic wooden cart.

With the drought looming in Calgary this year, selecting plants that can thrive with little water is critical. The good news is there are some gorgeous options that will add colour to your garden even during dry spells.

Bearded Iris

These stunning perennials do well in Calgary and only need moderate watering. Their sword-like leaves and delicate flowers in shades of purple, blue, and yellow will brighten up your yard. Make sure you plant them in a spot with plenty of sun and well-drained soil.

Astilbe

This drought resistant plant produces graceful pink or red plumes and does well in shade. Although astilbe prefers moist soil, once established, it is quite drought tolerant. The foliage is also attractive, so it will look good in your garden even when not in bloom.

Succulents and Cacti

For low-maintenance color, you can’t beat succulents and cacti. These plants are designed to store water in their leaves and stems so they can handle long, dry periods. Look for echeverias, sempervivums, sedums, and opuntias which do well in Calgary’s climate.

Lavender

The fragrant purple flowers of lavender are irresistible, and the plant is easy to grow in Alberta. Lavender thrives in full sun and well-drained, sandy soil. Once settled, it only needs occasional watering and pruning. The flowers can be used in sachets, teas, and aromatherapy.

Catmint

With soft gray-green leaves and pale purple flowers, catmint makes a wonderful drought resistant ground cover or border plant. It spreads readily, so you may want to consider planting it in a confined space. Catmint is deer resistant, attracts pollinators, and only needs moderate watering and full sun to thrive.

By choosing some of these gorgeous yet low-maintenance plants, you’ll have a colourful garden that can withstand Calgary’s dry conditions. Your garden will stay vibrant all season long with much less effort on your part.

Where To Find Drought Resistant Plants In Calgary?

A close-up of a person's hand using a gold pen to check off items on a to-do list.

If you’re looking to revamp your landscaping, now is the perfect time to choose plants that can thrive even when rain is scarce. Check out these spots around Calgary to find drought resistant plants suited for our dry climate.

Greengate Garden Centre

This longtime local garden centre is a great place to start. They focus on plants and gardening essentials that perform well in Calgary’s challenging climate, including many drought tolerant species. They also stock ornamental grasses such as Karl Foerster feather reed grass, which is recommended for Calgary’s dry spells. The staff are very knowledgeable and can provide advice on choosing and caring for plants that don’t guzzle water.

The City of Calgary’s YardSmart Program

The city offers a list of plants on their website that are well-suited for Calgary’s climate, including many drought resistant choices. Plants are rated for factors like drought tolerance, salt tolerance, and attractiveness to pollinators. 

They also provide helpful details on the specific conditions each plant prefers. Some recommended drought resistant plants include blanket flowers, prairie sage, and blue grama grass. This is a great resource for residents looking to make eco-friendly landscaping decisions.

Local Nurseries

In addition to Greengate Garden Centre, Calgary is home to several locally-owned nurseries that specialize in plants adapted for the Prairies, including many drought resistant options. A few to check out are:

  1. Bow Point Nursery focuses on hardy plants, shrubs, and trees in the Calgary area. It sells lavender, potentilla, spirea, and more.
  2. Community Natural Foods sells houseplants and herbs, many of which do not require frequent watering and can handle some neglect. They source locally-grown plants when possible, so you’ll be supporting the community.

With some research and the help of local gardening experts, you can find beautiful, low-maintenance plants to keep your yard looking lush, even during the driest of seasons. And by choosing drought resistant species, you’ll be doing your part to conserve our city’s precious water resources.

Adapt To Drier Conditions With Style

A vibrant xeriscape garden with flowering shrubs, plants, and large boulders on a bed of gravel.

So there you have it, folks. With drought conditions looming in 2024, Calgary is urging water conservation. But you can still have a beautiful yard by choosing the right drought resistant plants. 

With options like blanket flowers, lavender, and ornamental grasses, you’ll save water while enjoying nature’s beauty. Be sure to group plants with similar needs, and use mulch and water efficiently when you do. 

With smart choices, we can ride out this dry spell in style. The options are plentiful if you know where to look and how to care for them. A drought tolerant landscape is good for the environment and your wallet. So get out there and start planting!


Drought-proof your yard with Alchemy Landscape!

Don’t let dry conditions ruin your outdoor space. We create beautiful, water-wise landscapes tailored to thrive in Calgary’s climate.

Contact us today for a greener, more resilient yard!