Waterwise Planting for Utah Landscaping

desert plants in Utah yard

In Utah, we’re facing some watering guidelines due to our desert climate. Weekly lawn watering guides for 2022 encourage residents to wait as long as possible to start watering their lawns. For Northern Utah, the drought watering guide suggests holding off on irrigation until temperatures are consistently above 70 degrees.

So, how can you adapt your yard to be more waterwise and to thrive in these conditions? Cottonwood Landscapes has some suggestions for drought-tolerant changes you can make to your yard.

Tips for a Waterwise Yard

According to the Utah Division of Water Resources, about 60% of residential water is used outdoors. That’s a lot of water just to have a lawn! Consider diversifying your soft and hardscapes to use less water and still have an inviting outdoor space to enjoy with loved ones.


Help your landscape preserve the water it gets by mulching generously. A hearty layer of mulch keeps your soil from drying out, whether you use organic or non-organic materials. Types of mulch vary in size and color, so you can find the perfect selection to complement your yard:

  • Chopped leaves or grass clippings
  • Wood chips
  • Shredded bark
  • Sawdust
  • Pine needles
  • Straw

Mulch around your garden plants, flowers, trees, and shrubs to keep them from drying out this summer.

Drip Irrigation

Slowing down your water flow and using a timer are two efficient ways to give your yard a drink. Reduce run-off and evaporation by outfitting your vegetable garden and flower beds with drip irrigation.

If you have new trees, invest in tree “gators” that slowly give your saplings a drink over an extended period of time. It’ll not only save water, but it’ll save you from having to run a hose to the base of your new trees multiple times per week.

Water at the Right Time

In addition to modifying how you deliver water to your yard, make sure you’re doing it at the right times. Watering before or after the hottest parts of the day can ensure you’re not losing water to evaporation. 

Also, water less often, but for longer periods of time. Follow the order of priority for watering plants in periods of water scarcity:

  • Mature and newly planted trees
  • Shrubs
  • Perennials
  • Fruit and nut trees
  • Groundcover
  • New sod (less than one year old)
  • Annuals
  • Herbs
  • Ornamental grass
  • Established grass

Feed Your Soil

Organic matter such as compost can enrich your soil and help it retain water better. Aerating soil can also provide better water absorption, and allow nutrients to better penetrate.

Provide Shade

If you don’t have mature trees that can shade your lawn or plants, consider adding some to reduce thirst. It could be temporary, such as a sun sail, or you could choose a more permanent option from Cottonwood Landscapes, such as a pergola or patio cover.

Collect Rainwater

Take advantage of whatever rain you receive and collect rainwater. You can set up an elaborate system, or with buckets under a downspout.

Drought Tolerant Plants for Utah

There are myriad options for planting plants native to Utah that are drought tolerant. Here’s a list of perennials, trees, and lawn blends that is by no means comprehensive:


  • Autumn Sage
  • Chocolate Flower
  • Crevie Pygmy Draba
  • Desert Zinnia
  • Gray-headed Coneflower
  • Narbonne Blue Flax
  • Penstemon (various varieties)
  • Prickly Poppy
  • Showy Milkweed
  • Snow Flurry Aster
  • Western Sundancer Daisy

Coniferous Trees

  • Angel Falls Eastern White Pine
  • Austrian Pine
  • Baby Blue Eyes Spruce
  • Bristlecone Pine
  • Chief Joseph Lodgepole Pine
  • Columnar Blue Atlas Cedar
  • Pinyon Pine
  • Rocky Mountain Juniper
  • Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar
  • White Fir

Deciduous Trees

  • Amur Corktree
  • Bradford Flowering Pear
  • Bur Oak
  • Chokecherry
  • Columnar English Oak
  • European Smoketree
  • Frontier Elm
  • Hedge Maple
  • Kingan Mulberry
  • Moongold Apricot
  • Rocky Mountain Maple
  • Sterling Silver Linden

Lawn Blends

  • BioNative Wheatgrass Mix
  • Blue Grama
  • Buffalo Grass
  • Dog Tuff Grass

Let’s not forget the extensive selection of cactus, succulents, and ornamental grasses that require less watering than other plants and lawns. Cottonwood Landscapes can help you pick the right combination of greenery to help bring your vision to life.
Once you’ve selected your vegetation, why not complement it with hardscaping such as gravel, large rocks, or decking? You can maximize your space and bring dimension to it with a variety of materials, some of which won’t require a drop of water all season long. We can help you create outdoor living spaces including kitchens, firepits, and covered patios. From Bountiful to Lehi, Cottonwood Landscapes is the premier choice.

Cottonwood Landscapes is your source for premier landscaping in Utah.

Check out our full list of services and get started on the project of your dreams today.

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