Here’s something we gardeners should keep in mind year round – that whatever climate we currently enjoy, we must never loose sight of the possibility of dry times ahead. Do we rip everything out and replace it with rock mulch and yuccas?
No, thanks to this IMPish approach: Irrigation (done well), Mulch, and Plants. It works, and it’s embarrassingly easy.
Irrigation: Starting at soil level, run low pressure, inline drip irrigation over your garden and hook it up to a programmable timer. You’ll use less water, it will be delivered right where it’s needed, and you can water the garden at five in the morning – which is more effective – while you’re still asleep.
Mulch: Now spread a thick layer of mulch over the top of the irrigation. This stops your precious water evaporating before the plants can get to it. It also helps keep the soil cool so the fine plant roots aren’t cooked. Keep the mulch chunky for two reasons: 1) it breaks down slowly so you won’t have to re-mulch as often, and 2) weed seeds drifting in on the breeze won’t take hold as easily.
Plants: The plants you already have in your garden will either thrive with the irrigation and the mulch, or they won’t. If they don’t, take the hint and replace them with plants that are tough and will cope. Ask for advice or look around at gardens closer to home; you may be surprised at the plants that prove to be drought performers. Flower Carpet® roses are one. Tropicanna® cannas are another. Or the Storm™ series of agapanthus and the Burgundy Spire™ cordyline. Even the delicate looking Fairy Magnolia® is tough as old boots despite being a thing of delicate beauty.
Other easy-to-grow drought tolerant plants include sedums (which come in a variety of colors and sizes) coneflowers, ornamental grasses, some varieties of verbena, lantana and most native plants. Your local garden center can help you select drought-tolerant plants that are best suited to your area.
If you make the effort to fill your garden with plants that can cope in drought conditions, you’ll keep your garden lush. And the best tip of all? If you take the IMP approach even where water is plentiful, you’ll have a healthier more robust garden overall.
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