The overall strategy is to use native, drought-tolerant plants to cut outside water needs, then to create your own irrigation supply by harvesting rainwater. Native plants naturally grow in our local area. They are accustomed to local soils, rainfall, and pests, so they need less water, fertilizer, and care. Native flowering plants attract birds, bees and butterflies. Conventional lawns require lots of water – instead why not use good-looking native grasses? See this website for detailed information on native and drought-tolerant plants.
Or, you can plant an edible landscape –a vegetable garden - and grow some food. Drip irrigation combined with mulch will drastically cut your water use.
Whether you choose ornamental plants or vegetables, it is important to plan ahead so that your rainwater harvesting system can supply all your outdoor water needs. The more water you capture, the more you can grow. When you replace a high water-use landscape with a low water-use landscape, you will conserve water and still have a beautiful yard.
The bottom line: avoid using groundwater for landscapes.
Native plant lists and sources: