Click to Print

Water-Wise Landscape for the Northwest

Earth-friendly exterior design helps conserve and recycle rainwater.

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 the gutter downspout with a 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. Currant (Ribes sanguineum glutinosum)
    Alternative: Salal (Gaultheria shallon) or other medium shrub 3 to 5 feet tall

    B. Narrow leaf or plains yucca (Yucca glauca)
    Alternative: 'Bright Edge' yucca or other evergreen, drought-tolerant accent shrub

    C. Golden-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium californicum)
    Alternative: Little bluestem (Schyzachyrium scoparium) or other ornamental grass or grass-like plant, one to 2 feet tall

    D. Wooly sunflower (Eriophyllum lanatum)
    Alternative: Other flowering herbaceous plant, 2 to 3 feet tall

    E. Fringecup (Tellima granfiflora)
    Alternative: Lupine (Lupine spp.) or other flowering herbaceous plant, one to 2 feet tall

    F. White mountain heather (Cassiope mertensiana)
    Alternative: Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) or other flowering groundcover, 6 to 12 inches tall

    G. Oregon iris (Iris tenax)
    Alternative: Other tough, small groundcover, 2 to 4 inches tall

    H. Beach Strawberry, sand strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)
    Alternative: 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 (

  • Advertisement will not be printed