GIVE THE PROCESS THE TIME IT TAKES -- DON'T RUSH, PLAN AHEAD
Designing and installing a new landscape should ideally be a thoughtful, reflective and careful process. The designing, planning and installation process for an average residential project can (should?) take 6 to 12 months, depending on the size and complexity of the job. Rushing the design and installation process can be detrimental to the final product in the long run. Granted, sometimes it's necessary to rush, and you can still get good results. If rushing is not necessary, take the time to get a good design and quality installation. Note: Shoot for your dream landscape for the design phase, and then you can scale it back or space out into phases to accommodate your budget.
PLANT IN THE COOL SEASON, RATHER THAN SUMMER
If you are installing a drought tolerant landscape in California (a Mediterranean environment), plan around the goal of installing your new plants in November (ideally) through May (last resort). Most summer-dry plants (those from Mediterranean climates) are entering dormancy in late Spring or Summer and, if installed at that time, will not have a chance to get established before the heat of summer. Extra water in the summer will not help a summer-dry plant get through the heat, since they are not actively growing and not taking up much water from the soil. They also don't like to have wet feet, so overwatering increases their stress. If you just can't wait for the cool season, don't overwater, and expect some percentage of your new plants to die.
NOTE: Some California native plants are more likely to do fine when planted in late spring and summer months, including desert and riparian plants, grasses and shade plants.
SLEEP, CREEP, LEAP
Where this phrase originated, I'm not sure -- I heard it at the Theodore Payne Foundation (for California native plants). You'll probably want your new landscape to manifest beautifully right away, but patience will be warranted. Especially with California Natives (and lots of other Mediterranean plants), the principle of "Sleep, Creep, Leap" applies. Once you have installed your (usually) 1 gallon plants, there will (for many plants) not be significant growth the first year while they are getting acclimated and established -- they appear to SLEEP. The second year they will CREEP, showing more noticeable growth. The third year you can expect them experience a LEAP of growth. It takes time for a landscape to mature into the intended design vision. It can be wonderful to enjoy the unfolding, watch it happen and get acquainted with your plants.
The Mindful Gardener Landscape Design Specializing in California Native and Drought Tolerant Designs Serving the Northeast Los Angeles Area and Surrounding Neighborhoods Maggie Haase | firstname.lastname@example.org | 818-720-6972