A few Cliffs Notes

•Keep only as much lawn as you need. Replace the rest with low-water, low-maintenance native plants, Mediterranean-climate plants, and succulents.

•Drip and low-pressure irrigation are best for all landscapes other than turf.

•Focus water use on plants that feed you.

•Succulents are easy to propagate, offer winter color and require very little maintenance.


•Aloes are best known for their coral and red winter blooms. But some bloom in spring, summer or fall. Growing different aloes ensures bloom nearly year-round.

•Joe Clements’ favorite agaves to use in landscapes are the architectural Agave victoria-reginae and the artichoke-like Agave parryi v. truncata.

•Reuse or recycle as much material from your site as possible — rocks, cuttings, leaves, etc.

•Composting diverts some waste from landfills.


•Wood and metal benches are fine for formal garden seating, but in a more naturalistic setting, try a well-placed, flat boulder.

•There is no quick gardening. A sustainable garden takes four or five years to begin maturing. At that point, it requires some editing but little maintenance.

— Nan Sterman