ASK AN EXPERT
Xeriscaping = Drought Tolerant Garden

Helping plants survive drought use to mean turning on the sprinkler at the end of a hot day. There is a more water efficient way of gardening that saves water and time. The goal of xeriscaping is to build a sustainable garden that helps plants survive dry periods on their own, without relying on supplemental watering, fertilizer and other maintenance tasks. There are four key elements that make a xeriscape garden successful and beautiful.

1) Get to the root:
Shallow rooted plants are more dependent on the gardener for their food and water since applied to the soil surface. Deep-rooted plants are able to find their own sources of nutrients and moisture deep in the ground. There are two important ways to help plants develop long roots: First, by adding organic matter deep into the soil which will help the plant retain moisture and adds nutrients. Second, by watering your plants for lengthy periods of time rather than shorter ones, so that the water penetrates well into the ground thus encouraging strong, deeper rooting.

2) Conserve water:
To help keep moisture in the ground where plants need it, apply mulch to soil surface to prevent water evaporation from the drying sun and winds. When watering becomes necessary use a drip irrigation system, such as a soaker hose, to deliver water to the base of the plants where it is needed. Avoid using overhead sprinklers which lose one-third of their moisture to evaporation. Water in the early morning and not mid-day. In-ground irrigation can be very effective to control watering and to conserve water.

3) Start them off right:
Plants suitable for xeriscape gardens are self-sufficient once they are established but most need care at first. To ensure their survival, before planting, fill the hole with water and allow it to drain. After planting, water again until the ground is unable to absorb any more moisture. For the first few months after planting you need to water the plants deeply at least once a week.

4) Pick the right plants:
Some plants adapt to dry conditions better than others. These plants usually have long tap roots that will find buried sources of water. Succulents do well as they store moisture in their leaves. Silvery foliage plants tend to reflect sunlight; waxy leaves will lock in moisture; wooly leaves help conserve moisture.

black eyed susansRecommended Drought Tolerant Plants

Shrubs:
Butterfly bush, mock orange, ninebarks, smoke bush and sumac.

Perennials:
Black-eyed Susan, blazing star Liatris, false sunflower, Lamb’s ears, poppies, purple coneflower, Russian sage, sea lavender, spurge, stonecrop sedum, thrift and yarrow.

Grasses:
Bluestem, Little bluestem, maiden grass, sedge, tufted hair grass.

Contact Harmony Gardens Landscaping Inc. to design and build your drought tolerant garden.