Dampening the Drought: Adapting to Hotter, Drier Summers 

Butterfly milkweed is a drought resistant plant that is both attractive and beneficial for pollinators.

A flowering plant.
Butterfly milkweed is a drought resistant plant that is both attractive and beneficial for pollinators.

Climate change brings higher temperatures and more frequent droughts in summer. Instead of struggling to keep non-native plants and grasses alive on a high-water diet, plant drought tolerant native ones instead. The following are examples of native plants that have evolved to tolerate droughty conditions once established:

Drought Tolerant Plant Spotlight


A close-up of a tree's bark.

Paper birch offers year-round appeal with its iconic white peeling bark. It’s also a great host for butterfly and moth larvae and provides food and shelter for birds like black-capped chickadees and dark-eyed juncos.

Common hackberry provides fruit for wildlife and has a unique corky bark that is sure to attract attention.


A blooming shrub.

Maple-leaved viburnum is a small, easy to grow shrub that provides berries all year round for wildlife and produces beautiful clusters of white flowers making it an attractive choice for any garden.

If you’re looking for something evergreen, consider common juniper. It boasts beautiful blue berries and provides nesting opportunities for wildlife.


A close-up of two flowers.

If you’re looking for flowers, wild bergamot is a fantastic choice for supporting pollinators. It not only supports sweat bees and bumblebees, but is the host plant for the hermit sphinx moth. Purple flowers appear during the height of summer, and seeds produced in the fall provide winter interest.

Butterfly milkweed is another attractive option if you’re looking to help the monarch butterfly, which will lay its eggs on the leaves of this plant. Bright orange clusters of flowers bloom during July and August.


A lawn with planted trees.
Photo credit: David Eigner.

If you can’t lose the lawn, consider drought tolerant fescue often called enviro or eco lawn blends. Fescues are finer than turf grasses like rye or Kentucky blue and, while they can yellow in drought, they revive after a shower. Some fescues only grow to 30 centimetres (12 inches) and flop over, giving the appearance of a more manicured lawn that doesn’t need regular mowing.

Parking Lots

A parking lot with planted trees throughout.

Parking lots can reach extreme heat temperatures and while trees help cool them, they need adequate space and soil, and protection from winter maintenance, compaction and damage from equipment and vehicles to survive. Soil cells can help! They provide space for roots, reduce compaction and damage and keep trees alive, which reduces heat and replacement costs. 

Use our sustainable landscaping resources to help choose and source ideal native plants for your property or contact Greening Corporate Grounds for help with planting plans.

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