As the earth continues to heat, drought conditions around the globe are occurring more frequently, and for longer stretches of time. What does this mean to the avid gardener? It means implementing clever techniques to maximize every drop of water, to sustain your summer garden.
Choose Water-Conserving Containers
When the name of the game is water conservation, glazed terra cotta works wonders. These plant containers are suitable for various flowers and herbs, and because they do not seep water, your plantings will require less frequent watering.
Add Mulch for Aesthetics and Water Retention
A thick layer of mulch, 2-3” in depth, and spread evenly around plants, not only helps the soil hold moisture, it looks nice, too. Mulch also keeps weeds from sprouting up, to allow all of the soil nutrients, and available water, to be centralized on the plants, instead of pesky crabgrass.
Surround the Garden with Deer Fencing
The last thing you want, after you have worked so hard to conserve the water in your garden soil, is to have wildlife enter and ruin it all. You may have the healthiest garden in town, but once the four-legged creatures in the area get wind of your bounty, they will stop at almost nothing to get their piece of it. Deer fencing around the perimeter of your garden, ensures the garden’s bounty and safety.
Introduce a Drip Watering System
Drip irrigation allows water to be concentrated directly to where it is needed. This system cuts down on loss of water, via evaporation, and also eliminates water runoff, which is especially harmful to plantings during droughts. DIY systems are easy and affordable, so that water is delivered precisely to plant roots.
Opt for Drought Tolerant Plants
Native plants are always a great option for any garden. The plants that are indigenous to your area will have developed the ability to thrive on rainfall alone. Some considerations for drought-tolerant plants include:
- Catmint – Attracts bees and butterflies, and works well along garden borders, as well as rock gardens
- Salvia – Vibrant color from summer and through the fall season
- Russian Sage – While this gorgeous plant can withstand everything from drought, poor soil, and the cold, it does love a lot of sunlight
- Licorice Plant – Thriving in partial to full sun, this interesting looking plant is elegant and smells like licorice
- Yarrow – Ideal for sandy soil, for maximum petal blossoming, full sun is best
- Veronica – Requiring soil that drains well, as well as full sun, this gorgeous plant is available in pink, purple, and white
General Garden Maintenance
Tending to your garden will reap great rewards, whether it is a bountiful harvest, vibrant flowers, or both. General maintenance is required for a minimum level of satisfaction and benefit.
- Dead Heading – This is the practice of cutting or pinching off of flowers as they start to deteriorate. This is a good practice to get into on many annuals and perennials. Excising should be done where the flower head meets the stem.
- Weeding – The definition of a weed is any plant that you don’t want in your garden. If you keep your eye on the garden, and pluck weeds when they are still young, they won’t become a future problem.
- Pruning – Removing dead branches will allow for healthy new plant growth. Pruning away overgrowth will also mean moisture is not wasted on tangles, and instead will be concentrated on wanted growth.
Add Organic Matter to Garden Soil
More than just mulch, organic matter, like garden compost, mushroom compost, animal manure, or worm compost, will add a bevy of nutrients to the soil, which will then be drawn into existing plants. Organic matter helps lock in not only nutrients, but also water, keeping your crops healthy, even during times of drought.
Mapping out Your Garden
If you have the luxury of plotting out your garden from the start, consider a design that takes into account the various needs of your plants.
- Plant trees where shade is needed. In so doing, place plants and flowers that require partial shade nearby these trees. Trees inherently conserve water, and their shade will help nearby plants conserve water by limiting evaporation.
- Group plants according to their water and sunlight needs.
- Consider placing sprinklers in areas where water-needy plants are positioned.
Even during times of drought, which, due to climate change, are becoming more and more frequent; you can maintain a healthy, vibrant garden. Regular maintenance, like pruning and weeding, along with keeping the soil spongy and aerated, will keep nutrients and moisture where it belongs, in the roots of your plants. A deer fence placed around the perimeter of the garden, will keep out deer and other critters who are insatiably hunger, and intent on ruining all of your hard work.