How to Drought-Proof Your Garden

How to Drought-Proof Your Garden


These days, many climates in the US that have traditional seen steady rainfall are currently experiencing serious droughts. Droughts can devastate gardens regardless of geographicallocation. But helping a garden withstand drought is not as daunting as it mayseem. With the right combination of landscape design, fertilizer use, water use,and care, any garden can emerge flourishing and healthy after a dry spell.

Planning what to plant and where to plant it is a toppriority. Choose native plants whenever possible because they are the mostaccustomed to the local environment. This does not mean you can’t grow what youwant. It just means you will have to pay closer attention to placement andwater needs in drought conditions.

Remember that plants adjacent to structures like buildingsor sidewalks, which reflect light and heat, tend to absorb more of both. Plantthese areas with plants that can tolerate those conditions. With less water-and heat-resistant plants, it is best to plant them as close to your watersource as possible to promote easy care.

Soil is extremely important for a flourishing garden, both forwater retention and minimizing fertilizer use. Make sure your topsoil is looserather than compacted, with a combination of small and large pores that promotegrowth of organisms and water retention. Tilling organic compost into the soilhelps reduce the need for fertilizer because the organic matter fertilizes asit breaks down. Organic matter also retains water like a sponge for those dryspells.

Adding a layer of mulch on top of your rich soil helpsreduce evaporation, as does watering at the proper time. The sun is hottest andbrightest in afternoon, increasing the evaporation rate. Watering late at nightcan safeguard against evaporation, but may also promote fungal growth. Thatmakes early morning watering best for drought conditions. Morning-wateredplants can soak up the water before it is evaporated, so they are ready for hotand dry conditions. Also consider capturing rainwater in rain barrels or usinggutters to capture natural runoff and irrigate your garden. This saves on wateruse, mimics natural conditions, and can also beautify your garden. During thedrought you can supplement natural irrigation by soaking plants with a hose.

No matter what your design, watering schedule and plantchoice, regular maintenance and care are vital to a thriving garden. Weedingeliminates competition for water from unwanted plants, and just generally spendingtime in the garden can help you keep a sharp eye on weather conditions in yourarea.