Utah Drought Conditions

Population growth, high water use, and changes in Utah’s climate have resulted in a drought in our state over the last decade. The good news is that this past winter provided some much-needed replenishment to reservoirs, streams, and alpine lakes. Despite this promising trajectory, many residents are still considering ways to help reduce their water usage.

With Utah summers burning especially hot and dry, now is a perfect time to create a drought-tolerant garden for your home. Choosing the right plants for your garden, having an optimal layout, and taking proper care measures can help ensure that your garden survives and thrives even when water is scarce.

Xeriscaping in Utah

Xeriscaping is a landscaping style that requires little or no irrigation. It’s a fantastic way to create beautiful, sustainable landscapes. More and more Utahns are participating in xeriscaping because of the ongoing drought; it enables landscapers to simultaneously create interesting, diverse environments and reduce maintenance and water use.

Picking the Right Plants for your Neighborhood

Utahns will tell you that our state has many climates and temperatures. The reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all list of outdoor plants that will thrive in every unique climate throughout Utah. Gardeners in the dry heat of southern Utah will almost always have to choose plants that are more drought-tolerant than those that a gardener with a mountain home in the Uintas would select. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a fantastic starting point for researching what types of plants will thrive in your home garden. Here are some great drought-tolerant plants for your Utah garden:

Ten Drought-Tolerant Plants, Flowers, and Trees Perfect for Utah

  1. Yucca: If you’re looking for a drought-resistant plant that is easy to care for, Yucca is a great option. Yucca has a striking spiky appearance and is relatively low maintenance. This beautiful and versatile plant can be used in various ways – as a specimen plant, in mass plantings, or as a border plant.
  2. Lilac Bushes: Add a vibrant splash of purple to your landscape with this blooming bush. Lilac bushes can be fairly drought-tolerant once established, making them a great addition to gardens and landscapes in northern Utah’s climate.
  3. Indian Ricegrass: Planting a patch of Indian Ricegrass can help give your garden a native look. Its wavy, branching grass blades create an interesting look that can bring a touch of prairie to Utah’s very desert-heavy lineup of native plants.
  4. Agave: These succulents with large, pointy leaves are a fantastic, low-maintenance plant option. Over 250 species in the Agave genus means you can choose from a wide variety of types, ranging in size from towering plants that can grow taller than a person to small plants that are only the size of a China dish.
  5. Columbine: These flowers come in red or purple, offering flashy color to your home, and are quite drought-tolerant once established. Utah is home to a native species of columbines (the Utah Columbine), which grows in high-elevation meadows, forests, and rocky slopes.
  6. Sombrero Salsa Red Coneflower: Drought-tolerant and thriving in well-drained soil, the Sombrero Salsa Red Coneflowers are a low-maintenance addition to any landscape. They reseed independently and are just as extraordinary as their name, with vibrant red petals and dark centers.
  7. Agapanthus (Lily of the Nile): These perennials are known for being tough – once established, they continue to grow back year after year, even surviving unusually harsh summers. Unfortunately, this same toughness makes this species prone to becoming invasive in specific environments. Gardeners should consider keeping these lilies in planter boxes to help prevent unintentional spreading.
  8. Columnar Oak: These beautiful trees grow tall and narrow, adding a vertical element to your landscape. Like many trees in the Oak family, Columnar Oaks turn a deep, striking orange in the fall. They’re considered generally tough and drought-tolerant, naturally thriving in their environments once established.
  9. Scarlet Regal Petticoat Maple: Green in the summer and deep red in the autumn, Scarlet Regal Maples are stunning trees. They are also nearly maintenance-free: once planted and taken root, they require little attention.
  10. Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry: These versatile and popular trees have upright, sprawling branches that can reach 20 feet high. Serviceberrys have a shrub-like appearance and blossom white-petaled flowers in April and May.

Selecting drought-tolerant plants for your landscape reduces the need for maintenance and your water footprint. Xeriscaping and selecting drought-resistant plants allows gardeners to be water-wise while creating a diverse and colorful garden.

Gardening Activities for kids at Thanksgiving Point

Want to learn more about plant selection and gardening? Thanksgiving Point offers a variety of classes that can help you improve your gardening skills, increase your plant knowledge, or even socialize with other plant lovers.

Programs like these are a fantastic way to enrich your (and your family’s) gardening experience. Gardening can also be a great way to get your children involved and engaged with nature. Gardening promotes responsibility, patience, and problem-solving skills in children.

Explore other educational and fun activities for kids at Thanksgiving Point.