Drought tolerant gardens – what’s the big deal?

What we do in our gardens affects ecosystems elsewhere.  It’s impossible to draw a bubble around our homes and live in isolation.

Drought tolerant gardening means gardening that reduce water usage.  This helps in regions that don’t have plentiful fresh water supplies. And it’s gaining acceptance worldwide as climate patterns shift.

Some of the benefits of drought tolerant gardens are:

  • Decreased energy use.
  • Conservation of water.
  • Deterrence of erosion.
  • Reduced heating and cooling costs.
  • Lower maintenance.
  • Extended life for water resources.
  • More diverse habitat for plants and wildlife.
  • Minimal runoff of storm and irrigation water.

This means money saved and a beautiful garden!

Drought tolerant gardens offer amazing diversity. These are the principles of drought tolerant gardens.

You need to start with a good plan based on your site. Also look at the requirements for your garden. The most important design element is grouping plants of similar needs together.  For instance, look at shade, sun and water needs. Also look at soil conditions, drainage, wind and slopes. Finally, think of what your outdoor space will be used for. This means walkways, play areas, entertaining, etc?

Group plants according to their water and sun needs. Similarly, don’t over water by placing low water-use plants near water-loving ones.

Here in South Africa we love our lawns, but lawn is the most water thirsty landscape component. A lawn uses four times as much water as anything else in landscaping. Therefore design lawn areas for practical purposes, such as play. Reducing the size of your lawn will save you a lot on your water bill!

A well-planned irrigation system can help avoid over-watering. It not only wastes water but can be a cause of plant death and disease. The two most efficient irrigation systems are underground sprinklers and drip irrigation.

The addition of specialized products to your soil increases water retention. Adding organic fertiliser and compost will get your plants to stay healthy and grow well.

Mulches reduce evaporation, help keep moisture in, and reduce weeds. Mulch can include pebbles and gravel, wood chips and bark.

Seasonal adjustments to irrigation and efficiency checks save water.  Adding organic fertilizers and composting improve soil texture and maintain healthy plant growth. This needs to be done throughout the year.