Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Drought Tolerant Parkway Plantings: What Works?

dymondia 1

Parkway plantings are changing all over the neighborhood as many residents try to reduce water consumption with more drought tolerant plantings. The parkway is technically owned by the city, but property owners are responsible for maintenance of the area, including keeping the trees healthy and alive. All trees should have a separate drip irrigation watering system to water them deeply every few weeks, or should be watered by leaving a hose running at a drip for 8 hours.

What are some options for keeping the parkway accessible, nice to look at, drought tolerant, and healthy for our tree canopy? We look at a few options currently being planted in the neighborhood.

Scott Goldstein, former chair of the Windsor Square Tree Canopy and plant enthusiast, inspired Carolyn Ramsay to plant buffalo grass. Ramsay invited the Buzz to come by and check it out. Below are photos of the newly planted (about two months old) lawn at the Ramsay-Goodman residence which show how the plugs of buffalo grass start as clumps, then spread.

Recently planted Buffalo grass
Recently planted Buffalo grass
Established Buffalo Grass
Established Buffalo Grass

Yarrow is another option. It looked wonderful about a month ago when the first photo below was taken but recently it’s looking a bit brown since the weather has been so warm. Still, it seems like a good option to explore if you want a carpet-like solution. Yarrow sends out tall shoots of pollinator-friendly flowers which can be enjoyed by insects and humans alike, and then trimmed off with a weed-whacker once the blooms have faded.

Yarrow, photo taken in May
Yarrow, photo taken in July

Another alternative is to use leaf litter mulch. The oak trees in this parkway provide a nice mulch of leaves and deep shade. It is essential that one lets the leaves accumulate as a thick layer of mulch beneath oak trees to protect their root system from heat in the summer months.  Oaks should also not be watered in the summer, making the oak tree a nice drought alternative.


The official residence of LA’s Mayor, the Getty House, chose to put in dymondia and yarrow. The dymondia starts as small blue-greenish plugs and over about two years will spread as a very low-growing silvery green groundcover that generally likes heat and sun. The Getty House chose to add a a swath of yarrow (flowering in this photo from June) down the center of the parkway.

dymondia 2

Here’s another solution, artificial turf.  The synthetic plastic grass is rolled out and water permeable, and definitely green! But many horticulturists discourage its use as it heats up the environment rather than cooling it, and suffocates everything beneath it including insects and tree roots. What do you think?


Send us your photo and caption of what you’ve done with your parkway and we’ll publish in our next story on drought landscaping.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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