Climate change is leading to longer and hotter dry spells, so consider adapting part of your landscape with drought-resistant plants such as xeriscape flora in rock gardens or using drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials along stone pathways.
At planting time, mix organic compost into the soil to help retain moisture. Mulching also plays an essential role; shading provides shaded protection that slows evaporation while also letting more water sink in slowly.
As the first step of creating a drought-tolerant garden, soil preparation is the primary objective. This involves adding organic compost and other moisture-retaining materials. Mulching will protect the surface of the soil during periods of extreme heat or sun.
Make the transition into drought-tolerant gardening easier with well-draining, sandy soil. A soil test is the best way to do this: dig holes 6in (15cm) deep in various locations of your garden and refill with water every day for seven days – if water drains off quickly from these holes quickly then amending with compost or materials that enhance drainage may be needed for success.
When planting a drought-tolerant garden, select species that have evolved naturally to thrive under low water conditions. Some cacti and succulents, for instance, can tolerate extremely dry conditions; perennial flowers also tend to be drought tolerant if cared for correctly. When selecting perennial flowers as drought tolerant choices, look for ones with spikey or needle-like leaves, silvery-colored foliage, small leaves or waxy leaves which protect from too much direct sun light or heat absorption.
As well as selecting resilient yet beautiful plants, it’s also important to reduce the amount of grass in your yard. Consider replacing it with decorative gravel or stone for an eye-catching garden design that requires little additional water; or add groundcover plants like lamb’s ear or Japanese forest grass as decorative features on concrete or paver walkways and patios.
To further reduce water use in your garden, implement permeable pavement and other elements that allow rainwater to seep through instead of flowing off into streets or sewer systems. Use permeable pavers to create pathways and outdoor rooms; utilize rain barrels/cisterns to collect gutter downspout water for reuse later; use rain barrels/cisterns to collect it before using later; this can save both time and money while curbing erosion as well as the need for costly repairs on sewer lines and roads.
Selecting drought-tolerant plants is the first step toward future-proofing your garden against dry summers. Search for perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees that thrive in your climate while adapting well to dry conditions. Consider replacing thirsty turfgrass with wildflower meadow or tapestry lawn groundcover that requires less watering; additionally incorporate drought-tolerant flowers, herbs and trees in garden borders or beds as borders or beds for best results.
The best drought-tolerant plants are those native to their environment and naturalized in your garden space, although many other drought-tolerant species from other parts of the world can also adapt well and be added for color and texture.
Before planting, it’s essential to thoroughly cultivate the soil by digging deeply and mixing in organic matter such as home-made compost or mushroom compost, which improves its structure while increasing its ability to retain water and prevents puddles that could potentially drown young roots.
Tip #2 is planting drought-tolerant plants deep, so that they have greater access to underground aquifers. Furthermore, mulch your garden with 2- to 3-inch layers of organic material such as leaves or bark mulch in order to minimize soil evaporation and avoid heat build-up that could potentially harm plants.
If using a regular garden hose, water in the early morning or late afternoon to minimize evaporation and avoid overwatering. Water the plants again one to two times weekly until their soil dries out; once established plants have taken hold they should only require 1-1 2 inches per week of irrigation over two years.
Hardscaping features such as stone footpaths and patios can help reduce watering needs by slowing the rate of rainfall runoff. Or create a water-wise garden by installing a rainwater diverter that collects raindrops for storage in a pond or basin for later use in your garden.
With some careful planning, you can craft a garden that can withstand drought conditions. This water-wise landscaping practice – commonly known as xeriscaping – doesn’t only benefit residents living in regions experiencing regular rainfall; even those in regions experiencing abundant precipitation can benefit from making their yards more water wise. Drought-tolerant plants provide beauty and interest while thoughtful landscape design allows more efficient use of available resources.
Organic compost should be added to soil before planting to boost its moisture retention and deliver it directly to plant roots. Water-wise landscapes often feature hardscape elements that absorb rainfall instead of running off into nearby plants and lawns; permeable asphalt or concrete allows water to seep through, while porous gravel layers let rain soak through at the surface level.
As part of your landscape maintenance strategy, consider planting hardy yet low maintenance ground cover and flowering plants to keep the landscape lush. Reducing or eliminating traditional grass lawns for drought-tolerant alternatives like wildflower meadows or tapestries of rugged low growing perennials like hardy geraniums and Heuchera could help.
Choose plants tailored to your climate and growing conditions, such as those with silvery or grey foliage that reflects sunlight rather than absorbs it. Sedums, ornamental grasses such as Festuca ‘Red Buttons’ and Heuchera ‘Alchemilla mollis’; evergreen shrubs including junipers and cedars; as well as flowers such as euphorbias, heucheras or lavender are great drought-tolerant additions for any garden design; for flowers try Euphorbias, Heucheras or lavender for best results.
Water your plants less frequently but more deeply. Frequent shallow irrigation causes shallow-rooted plants that are more vulnerable during dry spells. By contrast, frequent deep irrigation allows roots to extend deeper into the soil, where moisture can more readily be found.
When possible, water your garden early morning when temperatures are cooler so less of the water evaporates quickly – this also lowers risk of fungal diseases that often plague plants in hot, humid weather. Furthermore, rain barrels linked up to your gutters can capture precipitation for future dry periods – setting one up is easy!
An attractive garden can add immense value to any home, and water-wise landscaping can only increase its appeal to potential buyers. Even in areas with consistent rainfall, making your lawn and garden drought-tolerant is worthwhile as not only does it reduce your water consumption but it saves money on fertilizers and gardening products as well.
Reducing water use in your garden takes the right combination of plants, soil and maintenance practices. Most importantly, select drought-tolerant grasses and plants suited for your local climate – many native varieties exist that thrive under dry conditions while there may also be imported species from distant parts of the globe that have evolved with similar climates.
If your garden will be planted in sandy or rock-based soil, amending it with organic matter will help improve its quality and increase water-holding capacity. Wood mulch will further help protect the ground by reducing heat production and slowing evaporation rates.
Another key consideration in garden planning is assessing how much sunshine your garden receives. Direct sunlight causes soil temperatures to quickly heat up, making it harder for roots to absorb moisture. To reduce water requirements for your plants, opt for planting them near locations with partial or filtered shade.
An efficient drought-tolerant garden still requires regular attention, including pruning and fertilizing as needed. Weeds will sap moisture from your plants so regular removal is essential – for greater effectiveness consider using non-toxic herbicides that won’t harm the environment.
If you’re uncertain of your garden’s ability to withstand low-water conditions, try digging a hole and filling it daily for one week with water. If the hole remains full over this period, this indicates your soil may be well-draining; otherwise it could indicate it has an excessively high water table or be clay-based – either way it may still be possible to create drought-tolerant gardens by confining plants to containers so any additional water can focus on what matters: your plants.