Work with a good designer who can help you with proper plant selection and remember that even the most drought tolerant of plants need close attention the first year.
Proper choice of plant material: Survival during drought and heat stress is a function of the biology of that particular species.
Install container grown versus B&B (when dug) plant material: Container and Pot in Pot plants (a planted pot placed in a pot that is already in the ground and irrigated with drip irrigation) will get off to a better start than a B&B plant which typically retains only 30% to 50 % of its root system.
Proper soil preparation: For both lawns and plant material, soil aeration and the potential for deep root development is important to plant survival during times of stress. Bottom line, till, a deeper hole and proper soil can pay off.
Well designed automatic irrigation systems: With proper sprinkler head selection, head spacing, scheduling, and watering techniques such as “phasing”. Valuable water run-off can be prevented and a developed, deeper rooted lawn and will survive through droughts. Another very important issue to remember is that new plants need more water than your lawn. A sprinkler spray passing over the root system of a plant not only develops a swallow root system, but can also lead to plant death. So think about drip or deep hand watering methods.
Drip irrigation systems are a very affordable, alternative watering system for your plants. Drip systems are simply flexible tubing connected to your outdoor faucet or automatic irrigation on one end, and then spreading out in to your landscape with emitters at the base of each plant. Tubing lies under your mulch and emitters efficiently drip water resulting in a deeply rooted faster growing plant. Most municipalities allow you to run drip during drought situations.
Tools: Use of an inexpensive moisture meter can tell you when to water and not over water plants. The use of a Ross Root feeder can facilitate more efficient and effective deep hand watering.