Everyone is going drought tolerant these days. As we scale back our lawn areas in our gardens some people are left scratching their heads wondering, “What should I replace it with?”

We’re going to offer a few of suggestions for filling parkways and shrinking your lawn areas with beautiful filler plants and alternatives.




Shredded mulch, whether it’s cedar or redwood are great for suppressing weeds, saving water and best of all, giving your garden a “finished” look. Adding 2-4 inches, with 3 inches being optimal, is best for getting all the benefits of mulching. Shredded mulch is best because it stays in place, breaks down easily and looks superb.

While mulching, one rule of thumb; keep mulch away from the base or crown of plants by about 1-2 inches.

Pebbles or Decomposed Granite!



You choose river rocks, small pebbles or a combination to create your own “arroyo seco” or dry riverbed look. Pebbles can be used with plants, mulch or a combination of the two to help fill in larger areas.

You could even go BIG with a boulder or two to help add some height although the larger the boulder, the more difficult it is to get in place.


This will give you the largest selection to choose from – all shapes, sizes and heights. Ground cover, like wooly thyme, dymondia or elfin thyme, are perfect for areas you might be using as a lawn replacement.










These are not only super drought tolerant but when they are established they can withstand foot traffic. It makes them excellent for parkways.

Next are small, low growing shrubs like (native) ceanthus or manzanita, myoporum!

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And small flowering beauties like carpet roses:


Geranium “Rozanne”:


Snow-in-summer (cerastium tomentosum):




Prostrate Rosemary:


Most look best when planted in waves with other plants of different color or texture. Building edges of higher plants and creating a “look” for the area helps to pull everything together.

Keep in mind what else you’re growing in the garden and try to pull it all together for a drought tolerant, yet lush look. Don’t forget that no matter what, mulch is THE finishing touch to polished look, helps with water conservation and weed suppression.