If you have a dry spot in your yard, or you live in a dry climate, your gardening options are by no means limited. There are a number of plants which tolerate dry conditions, and some even enjoy them. By selecting plants suitable for a dry area, you will also reduce the amount of water you use in your garden, which will lower the strain on your electric bill and decrease your environmental footprint, if this is a concern for you.
Several traits are common to plants adapted for life in dry climates which can be useful to know about when you are looking for plants at the nursery and you don't have a list of recommendations handy. The first is that these plants tend to have deep taproots, adapted to grow deep into the soil in search of water. Many also have narrow, fleshy leaves which reduce loss of water through surface area, and they tend to be smaller than plants from lush, moist environments. Many nurseries helpfully identify plants well-suited to dry areas to make it easier for shoppers.
Some plants like succulents and cacti are commonly associated with dry areas, and they are indeed great choices for a dry garden. However, there are lots of flowering plants like African lilies, pinks, blanket flowers, false sunflowers, phlomis, speedwell, yarrow, seathrift, thistles, fleabane, carnations, verbena, goldenrod, verbena, flax, and spiderwort which also thrive in dry spots. Many scented plants like thyme, sage, and lavender also do well in dry heat, and most Mediterranean plants enjoy dry areas.
Trees like sumacs, elms, ash, gingko, Russian olives, and juniper also cope well with a dry climate. Although trees have a slower maturation rate than plants and shrubs, for people who are committed to staying for some time, planting trees is a great idea. In addition to adding texture and depth to the landscaping, they will also create shade, which is welcome in many climates.
Speaking of shade, if you have a dry shady spot in the garden, you can grow trees and shrubs such as buckthorn and yew, along with flowering plants like hostas, lily of the valley, lungwort, foxgloves, periwinkles, snowdrops, comfrey, and bishop's cap.
To help protect your plants from heat, if you live in a hot, dry climate, it can help to mulch them. Mulch will protect the roots for burning and help the plants conserve water, in addition to keeping down weeds and giving your garden a neater appearance. Mulch can be especially useful when plants are just getting established and there is a lot of blank space in the garden.