The Q&A Archives: Plants for sprinker-less parkway in the NorthWest San Fernando Valley

Question: I have parkways on the side and front of my house that are unplanted and an eyesore. There is no irrigation system, and I cannot afford to add sprinklers.

I need to plant these areas and would like to know what plants will best tolerate the heat of the San Fernando Valley, only natural rainfall, and clay soil.

Nothing that grows higher than 2 feet, or it will block visibility.

The parkway is very large, so anything that spreads well and grows quickly will help me save money on plants.

Also, for how long should the plants be manually watered before they are established?

Thank you.

Answer: There are a number of drought tolerant plants you can use in your parkway planter beds. All will need to be watered regularly (one deep soaking per week) until the roots are established. Bearberry or Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi); This evergreen prostrate ground cover creates a mat, spreading and rooting as it creeps out. Delicate light pink flowers appear in winter through spring atop dense leathery green leaves. Leaves turn a reddish tint in winter. Even though this is a slow growing species, it is useful to use on slopes or along retaining walls. Prefers sunny to partially sunny locations. Requires regular water the first summer after planting, and once established, depending on soil conditions will thrive with infrequent summer water. This plant grows to approximately 1 foot high by 2-3 feet wide.

Rockrose (Cistus sp.); This is a very hardy plant, with showy spring flowers. Accepts poor, dry soil and will tolerate cold ocean winds, salt spray or desert heat. Needs well-drained soil if irrigated. Little to no water is required once established. To keep plants vigorous, an occasional trimming of old stems will induce new growth. Height will vary depending on kind. Shorter varieties are useful as ground cover, in rock gardens, and in rough areas along roads or driveways. This plant grows to approximately 1 foot high by 2 ? 3 feet wide.

Spring Cinquefoil (Potentilla tabernaemontanii); This tough and persistent plant has a dainty appearance. A tufted creeper, this plant bears clusters of butter yellow flowers in spring and summer. Does well in most gardens and will smother out weeds effectively once established. Makes a good lawn substitute in areas of no-traffic. A fast grower, it is well used as a cover for bulbs. Little to moderate water is required. This plant grows to approximately 2 ? 6 inches high by 1 ? 2 feet wide.

Hope one of these suggestions is just right for your parkway!

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