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Water-Wise Landscape for the Rockies and High Plains

Ninebark, prairie sage, snowberry and other native plants help make the best use of rainfall in this earth-friendly garden design.

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

    Plant List

    A. Mountain ninebark (Physocarpus monogynus)
    Alternative: Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) or other medium shrub 3 to 5 feet tall

    B. Narrowleaf, plains yucca (Yucca glauca)
    Alternative: Other evergreen, drought-tolerant accent shrub

    C. Prairie sage (Artemesia ludoviciana)
    Alternative: Little bluestem (Schyzachyrium scoparium), mountain muhly (Muhlenbergia montana) or other ornamental grass or grass-like plant, one to 2 feet tall

    D. Spotted gayfeather (Liatris punctata)
    Alternative: Other flowering herbaceous plant, 2 to 3 feet tall

    E. Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata)
    Alternative: Prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) or other flowering herbaceous plant, one to 2 feet tall

    F. Field pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta)
    Alternative: Evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) or fringed sage (Artemisia frigida) or other flowering groundcover, 6 to 12 inches tall

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

    H. Wild verbena (Glandularia bipinnatifida)
    Alternative: Field pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta) 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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