Design With the Drought In Mind



Barbara Paul is a local landscape designer who teaches classes on drought tolerant landscapes at the Long Beach Water Department headquarters. The program is designed to provide its students with professional consulting services as we’ve been trudging through an exceptional drought. Recently, many people have been looking for ways to conserve water and make do with the necessary changes. Having your own garden aimed towards drought-tolerant and low-water using plant materials is a good start to reassess for a drought.

What got you interested in landscape architecture? I am a designer, not an architect.  There is a difference - architects, while some are involved with plant material placement, tend to be more focused on structural issues.  As a Landscape Designer, my education and my practice focuses on overall design from a horticultural perspective.

Being so drought-­tolerant garden friendly, have you ever lived in a colder environment/ do you prefer the hotter areas? I grew up in eastern Canada and have lived in California for about 30 years.  Both climates are interesting.  The important thing, from a Landscape Design perspective, is to understand the area in which you practice and to create designs appropriate to their location on the planet.

Do you think that having a well arranged garden further accentuates a person’s individual personality? But beyond that, would also be able to instill a sense of balance?   Good design incorporates balance in all aspects - color, placement of objects, ease of use, appropriateness for the environment.  Landscape Design is more than 3 dimensional design.  Properly done, it also takes into account the element of Time.  Plants grow and change with time and that must be taken into account at the beginning.

How did the concept of drought-­tolerant plants and gardens come up? Southern California is in a mediterranean climate zone - characterized by warm, dry summers and cool, relatively wet winters.  It is appropriate that we landscape using plant material that is naturally adapted to such a region, hence my interest in drought tolerant plant material.

What's the easiest thing people can do to make their landscaping more drought-tolerant? Educate themselves about plant material that is appropriate for their situation or hire a professional who possesses that knowledge.

Any comments or additional input you would like to add to the readers of DIG? The key to developing a successful landscape is to plant a garden that is in harmony with the natural environment, both from a horticultural and a style standpoint.


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