Make Your Eco-Garden Gorgeous with these Water-Saving Plants

drought proof garden

We’re used to hardships in Australia, with a climate that likes to challenge us to think outside the box when it comes to outdoor landscaping.

Today, we all have a reason to find ways to minimise our water usage, whether it’s because of our location and climate or because we want to lower our water bills. Perhaps you want to diminish your environmental footprint.

Creating a garden chock-full of water-saving plants means you’ll have a backyard that needs less water and less maintenance. It will thrive in dry conditions, so you won’t have a garden that feels the impact of harsh water restrictions either.

It’s easy to create a beautiful backyard not bound by the amount of water it receives. To start, search for plants native to your area that flourish in your environment unaided.

You can also pick plants that typically dwell in drier climates, whether they’re natives or are designed to optimise what water they receive.

Drought-Resistant Trees

Not only do trees create boundaries for your backyard (not to mention play things for the kids), they cast shade over your garden. Shade means your backyard will receive less sun, so the soil won’t heat up as much. And that minimises the amount of water evaporating from the soil.

Here are some fab backyard trees perfectly suited to Aussie climes:

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle is a deciduous tree that can grow to about 8 metres. It has peeling bark the kids will love and covers itself with white, pink, or red flowers when in bloom.

crepe myrtle


Quince grows to about 5 metres and offers pastel pink flowers around springtime. If the name is familiar to you, that’s because this tree grows fruit of the same name.

If you’re lucky, your quince fruit can be picked and eaten, giving the tree multiple purposes in your backyard (supplying food, shade, and beauty). Quince is a great fruit that can be made into all sorts of concoctions (like this delectable Quince Hazelnut and Oat Crumble).

Willow Bottlebrush

No tree is typically more Aussie than the bottlebrush – except perhaps the gum tree, but if you’re pushed for space they’re a bit trickier to grow!

Unlike the eucalyptus, the bottlebrush grows to a stubby 7 metres, making it the ideal small tree in your backyard. The bottlebrush has adapted Australia’s extreme temperatures so you can be confident you’ll have a luscious, thriving plant in no time at all.

The Willow Bottlebrush is adorned with furry, creamy-yellow bottlebrush flowers that are a gorgeous bright pink as new growth.

Swamp Mallet

The Swamp Mallet is a rounded tree that likes it tough! It’s fast-growing and takes to a soil challenge like no other plant. It has an endearing orange bark and can cast a pretty decent shadow over your lawn.

Waterwise Shrubs

Shrubs are what can really bring colour and variety into your garden. In Australia, shrubs kick off pretty well in drought-prone regions, are a fantastic way of covering vast portions of your backyard and reduce the amount of grass that can otherwise be a water-guzzler (unless you have artificial lawn!). Here are some of our favourites:

Native Fuchsia

When it comes to native plants, the fuchsia steals the show. It has charming long bell-shaped, green-pink flowers and can grow from anywhere between half a metre to 1.5m.

This plant thrives in less tropical environments and can be available in a range of species so you can jazz it up with a few different varieties.

native fuchsia

Gold Dust Wattle

So we said the fuchsia stole the show, but we may just have to change our mind when we think about the yellow glow that consumes the wattle when it flowers during spring.

The wattle’s cotton ball flowers may look delicate, but this is a tough plant that can tolerate frost, drought and lime.

But beware before you plant! These wattles can exude a seriously potent perfume!

Common Myrtle

Speaking of fragrances, nothing quite compares to the Common Myrtle for its aromatic essential oil. This evergreen is native to the Mediterranean, so it knows how to handle the warmer, drier climes.

The Common Myrtle can grow to 4 metres and develops unique small purple-black berries whose lives begin as pink-white stars.

But it’s actually its waxy green leaves you’ll find more useful. You can dry them to make potpourris or flavour pork dishes with them.

common myrtle

Be a Water-Conscious Gardener

There are plenty of ways you can reduce your impact on your backyard and still have a vibrant, flourishing garden. Aside from planting shrubs and trees, native grasses such as the Spiny-headed Mat-rush, the Turf Lily, and the New Zealand Flax are a great water wise way to pad out your garden beds.

Other water-conservative tips for your backyard include:

  • Minimising the lawn with paving, paths, decking, garden beds, or artificial grass
  • Pitching your paths and paved areas so that water runs off into your garden beds
  • Zoning your plants according to their water needs to minimise water waste
  • Adding compost and mulch to your soil to help retain and drain water and stabilise your soil temperature

Looking for more inspiration?

Make your garden truly admirable with more of Australian Outdoor Living’s outdoor resources:

Feature image courtesy of boughtbooks via Flickr.

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About Alex Kuchel

This is Alex. Alex is the National Brand Manager at Australian Outdoor Living (AOL). By day, she’s a member of AOL’s marketing team. She helps to conjure up ideas on how best to promote Australian Outdoor Living and enjoys working with a pretty awesome team of clever cookies. By night (and weekends), she enjoys the company of her family and friends. She’s a big believer in sun shine and does her best to enjoy it with those she loves most.”

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