Drought: A Long Period With Little or No Rain

By Jan Brick, Certified Master Gardener

Is your garden as dry, burned up and crispy as mine? Recently there has been much discussion of the problems associated with the drought. Garden writers and horticulturists are valiantly making suggestions of the best plants to use in our landscaping plans and home garden. Most of us agree that native and adapted plants are the best as well as those plants that we have observed actually surviving and thriving this summer but what about the long term? We must have a plan if these climate changes continue with cold winters and freezing weather then hot, dry, drought conditions in summer.check this site for information related to soil engineering and different technology. With no apparent relief in sight, perhaps we should consider alternative gardening practices. As I pull up the dead and dying annuals that I had always enjoyed, I am seriously considering a change in my landscape attitude. With that said, let’s take a serious look at the concept called “Xeriscape.”

Xeriscape refers to the conservation of water through creative landscaping. Originally developed for drought-afflicted areas, today the principles of xeriscape have a broadening appeal. Landscaping projects can benefit from this alternative as we have come to realize that water is an expensive and limited resource, xeriscaping lowers consumption of water; xeriscape plants along with soil grading and mulching takes full advantage of rainfall retention; with xeriscaping, less time and work is needed for maintenance.
The world’s first Xeriscape Demonstration Garden was created at the Denver Botanic Gardens in 1986. Its design was based on seven principles.

Plan and Design

Create a plan that indicates the areas for turf, beds, views, screens and slopes.

Soil Amendment

The ideal soil in a water-conserving landscape does two things: it drains quickly and stores water at the same time; this can be achieved by increasing the amount of organic material in your soil and keeping it well aerated. Compost is the best additive; peat moss and rice hulls can be helpful as well.
Plant Selection

For best results, select native or adapted plants along with drought-resistant plants. Group plants with similar light and water requirements in an area that matches these requirements. Grassy areas will require the most water while shrubs and perennial beds will require approximately half the amount. For south and west exposures, use plants that need a minimum of water while along the north and east exposure, choose plants that require more moisture. Planting trees helps to reduce evaporation by blocking wind and shading the soil. With best soil you can create the beautiful design when your plants grows more properly, to understand it better Check out this gardening blog for more tips on landscape design.

Efficient Watering Techniques

Soaker hoses and drip-irrigation systems offer the easiest and most efficient watering for xeriscapes because they deliver water directly to the base of the plant reducing moisture loss from evaporation and encouraging root absorption at a slow rate. Xeriscapes can be irrigated efficiently by hand or with an automatic sprinkler system, however avoid oscillating sprinklers and sprinklers that throw water high in the air or release a fine mist. The most efficient sprinklers release big drops close to the ground. Water deeply and infrequently to develop deeper roots. To reduce the chance of evaporation do not water during the heat of the day and install a rain sensor if you have an automatic sprinkling system.

Mulch

Mulch keeps plant roots cool, minimizes evaporation and reduces weed growth. Cover the soil around the plants with commercially produced mulch, leaves, coarse compost, pine needles, wood chips or bark. Organic mulch will eventually incorporate into the soil and will need to be reapplied. The mulch layer should be several inches thick with no spots of bare soil. Keep mulch three inches or more below the height of your slab to minimize the chance of termite problems.

Alternative Turf

Probably the biggest change for the home landscape would be a change in the type of turf selected. Removing and replanting already established lawns could be an expensive option but may be a logical alternative for new homes and commercial development keeping in line with the popularity of ‘going green.’ Research shows that warm-season native grasses that have been cultivated for turf lawns, such as buffalo grass and blue grama, can survive with a quarter of the water that the cool season bluegrass varieties need. New cultivars of bluegrass, such as Reveille, and tall fescue, can reduce typical bluegrass water requirements by at least 30 percent. Fine fescues can provide substantial water savings and is best used in areas that receive low traffic or are in shady locations.

Maintenance

Avoid over fertilizing lawns. Turf areas should not be cut too short; taller grass (about three inches) is natural mulch that shades the roots and helps retain moisture. Annuals and perennials in garden beds need some pruning from time to time to remove dead stems, promote blooming or control height and spread. Much of this plant material can then be used in the Recycle Bin Singapore.
The theories of a xeriscape garden may take some time and effort to actually incorporate as a course of reality in individual home gardens and landscapes but taking one step at a time; converting one area at a time can eventually accomplish this worthwhile goal.

Meanwhile as we are facing the daily challenges of just trying to keep something alive, we should follow Dr. William Johnson’s advice: “This is the time of year when we may tend to neglect our plants in the landscape and garden. A little care now will not only help help your plants withstand the rigors of summer weather, it also will reward you with a flush of color during the late summer and fall seasons.”

Flowering Plants that appear to be surviving and thriving the dry weather include the following:
Bulbine
Duranta
Esperanza
Ice Plant
Knock-out Rose
Lantana
Magnolia
Mandevilla
Marigold
Oleander
Plumbago
Penta
Periwinkle
Plumeria
Purselane
Texas Ebony
Tunera

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