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Drought Tolerant Landscaping in Utah

Drought-tolerant landscaping has become increasingly popular in Utah within the past few years, and with good reason. According to Utah Hazard Mitigation, Utah is the second driest state in the United States, with an average of 13 inches of annual precipitation. With drought and water shortages increasing across Utah and the western United States, many people are turning to drought-tolerant landscaping to conserve water while beautifying their yards at the same time. This article will discuss everything you need to know about drought-resistant landscaping, from design to the plants you can incorporate.

What is Drought-Tolerant Landscaping?

Let’s start with the basics. What is a drought? A drought is a prolonged period of dryness, specifically one that prevents the growth of vegetation or damages crops. It’s generally caused by a lack of rainfall and water in the atmosphere. In response to drought, many homeowners and businesses are turning to a landscape that helps conserve water. Drought-tolerant landscaping is a type of landscaping designed to thrive with little to no supplemental water. It usually consists of hardscapes, rocks, native plants, and low-maintenance landscape features that can withstand low-water conditions.

Drought-Tolerant Utah Landscape Design

While it might seem challenging to find drought-resistant plants fitting for the Utah landscape, there are a surprising number of drought-tolerant plants, some of which are native to the area and are beautiful in any Utah landscape design.

Drought-Tolerant Plants

Native Utah plants are not only drought-resistant, but they’re also a great addition to any landscape. In addition, they’re often strongly disease-resistant and attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds. Here are a few of our favorite drought-tolerant plants in Utah:


Yucca | Drought Tolerant Plants | Drought Resistant Landscaping Ideas for Utah | Think Architecture

Yucca | Utah Native Drought-Resistant Plant

A stunning statement piece in any landscape design, deep-rooted yucca are some of the most beautiful full-sun drought-tolerant plants. This is partly because the long tap roots make them particularly drought-resistant and hardy in zones 4-10.

Ornamental Grasses

Ornamental Grass | Drought Tolerant Plants | Drought Resistant Landscaping Ideas for Utah | Think Architecture

Ornamental Grass | Drought Tolerant Plant

Many types of ornamental grasses thrive in the full sun and with little water. Some can even thrive in partial shade, making them an excellent option for various landscape designs. With thick roots that conserve water, they’re great for any dry spots in the garden.

Jupiter’s Beard 

Jupiter's Beard | Drought Tolerant Plants | Drought Resistant Landscaping Ideas for Utah | Think Architecture

Jupiter’s Beard | Drought-Tolerant Plant

Jupiter’s beard, also known as red valerian, is an ever-blooming flower with tiny clusters of dark flower heads and deep-green foliage. This incredibly low-maintenance plant thrives with minimal water and is popular with pollinators.


Sedum | Drought Tolerant Plants | Drought Resistant Landscaping Ideas for Utah | Think Architecture

Sedum | Drought Resistant Plant

There are several different varieties of sedum, each appropriate for various areas of the landscape. However, they’re all manageable in Utah’s dry landscape and offer a unique interest in landscape design.


Lavender | Drought Tolerant Flowers | Drought Resistant Landscaping Ideas for Utah | Think Architecture

Lavender | Drought Tolerant Flowers

Lavender is a hardy plant that requires very little attention throughout the growing season and is a beautiful addition to any Utah landscape design. This pollinator plant offers soft scents and bright blossoms.

Drought-Tolerant Trees

Trees that can withstand heat and require little water are the backbone of Utah landscape design. Choosing drought-resistant trees help conserve water and add pops of color to the landscape. As a bonus, we all know they’re great for providing much-needed shade.

Blue Spruce

Blue Spruce | Drought Tolerant Trees | Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Ideas for Utah | Think Architecture

Blue Spruce | Drought Tolerant Tree

Designated as Utah’s first state tree, the blue spruce is a beautiful drought-resistant tree. It provides winter interest and serves as a visible accent in any landscape.

Japanese Zelkova

Japanese Zelkova | Keaki Tree | Drought Resistant Trees | Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Ideas for Utah | Think Architecture

Japanese Zelkova | Drought Resistant Tree

The Japanese zelkova is a tough, drought-resistant residential shade tree. They are disease-resistant and often used as a substitute for elm trees because of their similar appearance.

Utah Juniper

Utah Juniper Tree | Drought Tolerant Trees | Drought-Tolerant Landscaping Ideas for Utah | Think Architecture

Utah Juniper | Utah Native Drought Tolerant Tree

As one of the most drought-tolerant plants in Utah, the juniper is a busy, native tree that produces small berries that serve as food for birds. It adds a beautiful, evergreen interest to any landscape.

Pinyon Pine

Pinyon Pine | Drought Resistant Trees | Utah Landscape Design | Think Architecture

Pinyon Pine | Utah Native Drought Resistant Tree

This water-thrifty pine tree is a small tree that looks great in any landscape design. Common in the deserts of the Great Basin region, this tree is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and can tolerate hot, dry conditions.

Drought-Tolerant Ground Cover

Planting drought-tolerant ground covers add valuable vegetation to the area and a pop of color and texture to the landscape design. Some of these options are also great for areas where landowners want to remove & replace their grass with a more drought-tolerant turf option.


Yarrow Achillea | Drought Tolerant Ground Cover Utah | Think Architecture

Yarrow Achillea | Drought Tolerant Ground Cover

This low-growing ground cover has soft, feather-shaped leaves with flower stalks that grow upward. This drought-resistant plant quickly spreads to fill an area with green foliage and beautiful flowers.

Hens and Chicks

Hens and Chicks | Drought Tolerant Ground Cover Utah | Think Architecture

Hens and Chicks | Drought-Resistant Ground Cover

These low and slow-growing succulents fill in a landscape, growing in empty areas in rock gardens, stone paths, and rock walls. While hens and chicks aren’t a ground cover you can walk on, they make excellent plants for filling in a full-sun area of your garden landscape.

Creeping Thyme

Creeping Thyme | Drought Tolerant Ground Cover Utah | Think Architecture

Creeping Thyme | Drought Tolerant Ground Covering

With many available varieties on the market, creeping thyme is a flat plan that spreads to cover the area like a carpet. As a bonus, bees love creeping thyme when it blooms.

Ice Plant

Ice Plant | Drought Tolerant Ground Cover & Flowers Utah | Think Architecture

Ice Plant | Drought Resistant Ground Cover

With some of the most striking and perhaps heat-tolerant blooms in Utah, ice plants are excellent ground covers that beautify any space. They come in a wide variety of colors, too.

White Clover

White Clover | Drought Tolerant Ground Cover Utah | Think Architecture

White Clover | Drought Tolerant Turf Option

The clover root system is a steady supply of nitrogen to the soil, which is beneficial for any plant growth in the area. White clover is drought-tolerant and will not overcrowd grass, making it a great addition to already-existing turf areas.

Drought-Tolerant Shrubs

There are quite a few shrubs that are perfect for low-moisture environments such as Utah. Here are a few of our drought-resistant shrubs that can provide privacy, texture, and plenty of color around the yard.

Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon | Drought Tolerant Shrubs Utah | Think Architecture

Rose of Sharon | Drought Tolerant Shrub

Established rose of Sharon plants can tolerate little moisture and are a stunning addition to any landscape. The shrub produces paper-like flowers that come in a variety of colors.

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly Bush | Full Sun Drought Tolerant Plants Utah | Think Architecture

Butterfly Bush | Full Sun Drought Tolerant Plant

This low-maintenance deciduous shrub features fragrant purple flowers that bloom from mid-summer to mid-fall. It’s a showstopper that is a great focal point in any water-wise landscape.

Russian Sage

Russian Sage | Drought Tolerant Utah Native Plants | Think Architecture

Russian Sage | Drought Tolerant Utah Native Plant

This bushy purple plant is one of the most drought-tolerant plants in Utah. In fact, it thrives in dry, poor soil and rarely needs to be water once established. The spiky, purple foliage attracts many pollinators and is attractive in many landscapes.


Sagebrush | Drought Tolerant Plants Utah | Think Architecture

Sagebrush | Drought Tolerant Plant

While it’s one of the most common plants in the Utah landscape, it can be a stunning addition to any urban landscape. As a bonus, it only needs the rain that falls from the sky; there’s no need to give it any additional water.

Utah’s Water-wise Landscape Design Experts

If you’re planning on creating your own drought-free oasis or a low-maintenance drought-tolerant front yard, trust the experts at Think Architecture. Our award-winning Utah landscape architects create innovative urban landscapes. These environmentally conscious landscape designs feature drought-tolerant plants that are native to Utah to ensure long-term sustainability. Contact us today to get started on your landscape design.

Water-wise landscaping FAQs:


What are drought resistant plants?

What is the scientific drought resistance definition? Technically speaking, drought resistance is a broad term for a feature that allows a plant to tolerate and thrive in little to low water levels over a certain period of time. Drought-tolerant plants maintain their biomass in arid conditions and naturally adapt to dry environments.


Are boxwoods drought tolerant?

As a staple in many landscape designs around the country, boxwoods are incredibly drought-resistant and resilient evergreen shrubs. Once established, they need very little water to survive. With many different types of boxwoods available, they’re easy to incorporate into many different landscape designs.