Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
In recent years, frequent droughts and excessively hot weather have meant many gardens required supplemental waterings. By growing drought-resistant plants, such as cacti and succulents, and adopting water-saving garden practices, gardeners can reduce the need for watering. This is often referred to as xeriscaping.
When implemented, xeriscaping is labor saving and economical. Gardeners who are paying for water will save money.
Xeriscaping includes a number of steps, such as the use of drought-resistant or drought-tolerant plants and other water-saving measures. If you are building a new home or renovating a landscape, you’re in a perfect position to plan an entire landscape of plants that are adapted to drought conditions. Along with cacti and succulents, choose companion plants that can get along with very little supplemental watering. For annuals, you could select from ones like globe amaranth, statice, dusty miller, and tithonia. For perennials, drought tolerant ones include yarrow, garden sage, blazing star, day lily, red hot poker, and blanket flower.
When planning a new landscape, keep in mind that lawns require large quantities of water while most ground covers do not. So, minimize the space you allot to lawns.
When choosing plants, be aware that some exposures may be hotter than others. Generally southern exposures are very hot. In addition, a western exposure tends to be at its hottest during the afternoon and evening. This would not be a good spot to plant moisture-loving plants.
Mulching helps to reduce the need for water. Both organic and inorganic materials work very well. For cacti and succulents, gravel and stone are often used.
When choosing a watering system, select water-saving types if possible. These would include soaker hoses and drip irrigation. It helps tremendously to group plants in zones based on their water needs. For example, place cacti and succulents and other drought tolerant species together in beds or borders. Other kinds that need lots of moisture should be separated from those that need no supplemental watering.
By using these various gardening techniques, gardeners can create attractive xeriscapes that require very little watering.