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Water-Wise Landscape for the Southeast

Purple coneflower, Mexican feather grass, blue flag iris, yucca and St. John's wort help add color and interest to this water-saving entryway garden.

Use this landscape plan to accent your home's entranceway, reduce the amount of ground devoted to turfgrass and make the most of the rain that falls. An artful rain chain and rock-filled basin help slow runoff from the roof and direct water into a dry creek bed. Plants in the stream bed are moisture-tolerant; those outside are drought-tolerant.

This to-do list will help you install this plan's key features:

  • Replace gutter downspout with decorative rain chain.
  • Create a depression at the base of rain chain, lined with locally available rocks or decorative gravel to slow water and encourage infiltration on site.
  • Using flagstone or pavers allows more rain to enter the soil beneath than would a concrete walkway; seek out porous pavement options if a more uniform surface is desired.
  • Choose plants well adapted to site, soil and moisture levels (drought-tolerant on higher ground, moisture-tolerant in dry creek bed.
  • Mulch with a generous layer of locally available organic mulch (shredded bark instead of gravel) to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

    Other ways to conserve water

  • Install rain barrels at inconspicuous gutter downspouts to catch roof runoff and use the water to irrigate your garden, container plants and lawn.
  • Reduce the amount of lawn by adding native plants adapted to your climate and site conditions.
  • Plant deciduous trees for shade.
  • Plant windbreaks to reduce evapotranspiration.
  • Water plants early in the morning to promote deep root growth. Water thoroughly when you water; don't simply wet the surface.
  • If you're planning to install your driveway — or repave an existing one — use edged gravel, pavers on sand, or porous pavement.
  • Wash your car on the grass instead of the driveway.

    See next page for the plan

    Use this plan for a space measuring about 28 feet wide. Below is a site plan adapted to a 50-foot-wide area.

    Plant List

    A. Shrubby St. John's wort (Hypericum prolificum)
    Alternative: Bushy St. John's wort (Hypericum densiflorum) or other medium shrub 3 to 5 feet tall

    B. Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa)
    Alternative: 'Bright Edge' yucca or other evergreen, drought-tolerant accent shrub

    C. Little bluestem 'The Blues' (Schyzachyrium scoparium)
    Alternative: Mexican feather grass (Nasella tenuissima) or other ornamental grass or grass-like plant, one to 2 feet tall

    D. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
    Alternative: Tennessee coneflower (Echinacea tennesseensis) or other flowering herbaceous plant, 2 to 3 feet tall

    E. Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
    Alternative: Other flowering herbaceous plant, one to 2 feet tall

    F. Creeping phlox (Phlox stolonifera)
    Alternative: Rose verbena (Verbena canadensis) or other flowering groundcover, 6 to 12 inches tall

    G. Blue flag iris (Iris versicolor)
    Alternative: Copper iris (Iris fulva) or other tough, small groundcover, 2 to 4 inches tall

    H. Widowscross (Sedum pulchellum)
    Alternative: Green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum), thyme or other moisture-tolerant herbaceous plant

    Use this site plan for a space that measures 50 feet wide.


    1. Stepping stone
    2. Porch/Landing
    3. Rain chain
    4. Dry-stream bed
    5. Rock/small boulder
    6. Rock-lined basin or depression

    How to install your landscape plan
    Check out other garden plans.

    Landscape plan by Leah Gardner
    Illustrations by Simutis Illustrations (

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