Gardening Ideas For Drought-Prone Areas

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

After several hot summers and significant changes in water levels in many areas, water usage has become a critical consideration for many homeowners. This is especially true for those who have gardens and lawns in drought-prone areas. There is not a whole lot one individual can do to increase the water levels in an entire region. There are, however, a lot of different ways you can create a stunning and thriving garden with very little water.

To successfully garden in drought-prone areas consider getting rid of grass and incorporating more porous materials like mulch in your yard. Use the best moisture-absorbent soils for your plants. Whether you choose flowering plants, aloe, or cactus, ensure you select plants that will thrive in your climate and require very little water. You can also incorporate a rock garden and lots of shade.

At first, gardening with a restricted or limited water supply can feel like an impossible challenge. It is, after all, difficult to completely rethink how you garden. But the good news is there are all sorts of different ways to help conserve water and create a thriving garden in drought-prone areas. Below is a list of 10 effective and straightforward ways to help create a beautiful garden that requires very little water.

1. Get Rid Of Your Grass

This might sound a bit wild, but maintaining green grass requires tons of water. If you live in a wet climate, this isn’t an issue. If you live in a drought-prone area, however, grass is a real water guzzler. So, instead of grass, choose something that requires a lot less water, or even nothing at all.

There are lots of alternatives to grass in your yard. You can use stone pavers, pea gravel, or even artificial grass. The amount of water you will save by not having grass will likely be enough for you to have a much more diverse and vibrant garden and still have water left over.

2. Add Mulch And Other Porous Materials

Another great way to create a garden in dry areas involves incorporating materials that retain water. Porous materials absorb water and stay moist for longer than non-porous ones. This helps keep soil wet, and in turn, feeds plants for longer than non-porous materials.

Mulch is a great porous material that is also wildly popular. Mulch absorbs water like a sponge, and helps keep the soil below it moist for a long time. It also acts as a natural barrier between the sun and the soil, which helps your plants’ roots absorb water for longer without it evaporating into the atmosphere. The right mulch can also look natural and rustic.

3. Use The Right Soil For Your Plant And Climate

In addition to the right ground cover, you should also make sure you use the right type of soil for drought-prone conditions. You might think whatever soil is in your existing yard is naturally the right type for the climate, but this is often not the case.

In some cases, sandy or rocky soils are best, as they ensure water will drain quickly and efficiently to the roots of your plants. Compost, including animal manure, is also usually a good idea, as it helps prevent runoff and preserves nutrients.

4. Create Shade To Reduce Evaporation

You might not be able to control the weather in your drought-prone region, but you can control the amount of direct sunlight your plants experience. Sunlight might feed your plants with its light, but it also heats up the ground and sucks up the water. So, finding a balance between light and shade is a great way to give your plants much-needed sunlight while also sheltering them with shade.

Consider a shade tree or other form of shade that protects plants from the harsh midday sun, while allowing morning or afternoon sunlight, when the sun is less extreme.

5. Plant Drought-Tolerant Flowering Perennials

There are plenty of flowering plants you can cultivate in drought-prone areas that will flourish year after year. The key is to choose resilient species of perennials that are suited to your specific climate. Remember that not all drought-prone climates are the same. Some are hot, while others are colder and experience all four seasons.

Identify which types of perennials work best with your climate. Perennials are ideal, as they establish strong and embedded roots over the years, making them more resilient than annual species when water is scarce.

6. Incorporate Cactus And Aloe Species

If you are not always diligent about watering your garden and you live somewhere where rain is infrequent, then cactus and aloe plants are your best friend. Cactus and aloe are two types of plants that are fantastic at hoarding water. In turn, they can go days, weeks, or in some instances even months without water.

Aloe and cactus plants come in all shapes and sizes, and some species even have beautiful flowers, while others have stunning variegated designs. Incorporating these types of plants into your garden is a great way to ensure a healthy garden even if you aren’t diligent at maintaining it.

7. Create A Zen Rock Garden

Remember that not all gardens need to have lots of plants. There are many beautiful landscaped areas that have very few plants. Instead, they use different colored and sized rocks to create lovely shapes and dimensions in a garden. A rock garden is a great option for minimalists who are looking for an easy-to-maintain clean look. You can even incorporate different zen garden aesthetics to create a calming space.

8. Plant Gardens At A Slope To Maximize Rainfall

Even if you live somewhere with limited rain, this does not mean there is no rain. Often it is less about the amount of rain and more about how well it is utilized. Use gravity to ensure that as rain runs off of certain plant beds, it then reaches others. You can use piping to funnel water into different areas, as well as natural slopes. This helps make sure that when it does rain, your garden absorbs as much of this free water as possible.

9. Use Decorative Sculptures Instead Of Water-Reliant Trees

Trees are a lovely centerpiece, but they are not the only way to create an impactful impression in your garden. You can also choose to incorporate art and design in the form of a garden sculpture in your yard.

Sculptures are available in all sorts of materials and shapes and therefore can match whatever theme or aesthetic you are trying to achieve in your garden. They offer a big statement and require no water, which allows you to use the water you saved elsewhere in the garden.

10. Group Plants Based On Their Water Needs

Lastly, it is important you remember that even when you choose drought-tolerant plants, among these plants there are likely still varying water needs. One great way to ensure you keep all your plants alive without using more water than necessary is to group your plants based on their water needs.

Therefore, you will place the plants that require the most water in an ideal location, and water them more frequently. You can group more drought-tolerant species together and water them less frequently. This ensures all plants are watered according to their needs, but also makes sure you aren’t wasting water.

Concluding Ideas For Gardening In Drought-Prone Areas

All plants need some water to survive, but this doesn’t mean that you need a ton of water to have a thriving garden. There are lots of ways to ensure a successful garden in a drought-prone area. One great way to save water is to replace water-reliant grass with rocks or mulch. Use the right soil for drought-tolerant plants, and choose the right plants for your specific dry climate. If you want something low maintenance, you should consider planting cactus or aloe species, or even a rock garden.

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Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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