Tips & Techniques
For Betterday Essentials.
Tips and Techniques Header

Drought Tolerant Landscaping to Keep Your Yard Looking Fresh When Water is Sparse


By Linda Ly

When gardening in a drought, it’s sometimes easier to just throw in the towel (er, the trowel) and put your yard on hiatus in the height of summer. Longer days and rising temperatures can be hard on thirsty plants, but that doesn’t mean you need to forgo your beautiful landscape. By learning how to conserve the moisture in your soil and choosing water saving plants for your beds, you can create a beautiful garden that needs much less water than you may think.

1. Best Time to Water Plants in Hot Weather

By watering at the right times, you can actually reduce the amount of water your lawn and garden need without sacrificing their beauty. Too many gardeners subscribe to the idea, the more water, the better. But in reality, up to 40 percent of water dedicated to landscaping is actually wasted. Watering at the right time, and in the right way, can ensure your plants survive drought without wasting water.

The best time to water plants in hot weather is in the cool early morning hours between 6-10 a.m. Watering during the coolest time of the day allows the water to soak deeply into the ground rather than evaporate. Instead of overhead watering , which can lead to water evaporation and wasteful runoff, use a watering nozzle to direct the water where your plants need it the most – at their roots. This method also keeps disease at bay, since moisture clinging to the leaves from overhead watering can encourage fungal growth.

2. Drought Tolerant, Water Saving Plants

You can reduce your water needs with drought tolerant plants. Nature designed these plants to conserve water and thrive even in extreme climates. They often feature small leaf areas or needles, deep indentations, a fine hair-like surface or a waxing coating. Many have deep root systems to help draw in moisture.

Popular drought tolerant plants for a water saving garden include:

3. Grass Alternatives

Many areas restrict how often you can water your lawn during the heat of summer. Instead of struggling with maintaining a lawn, you can design a drought resistant backyard using alternatives to traditional grass. Planting ground covers can give you that lush, green carpet without the amount of water a healthy lawn needs – even in the hottest weather.

Drought tolerant ground covers include:

4. Stone Walkways

Xeriscaping, landscaping that keeps water conservation in mind, is an increasingly popular drought resistant landscaping option. Instead of filling your yard with large areas of grass or ground covers, consider using beautiful stone walkways and areas of decorative gravel. Placing ornamental grasses and small garden areas throughout the landscape can add a touch of green.

5. Water Saving Tips

Once the days become long and hot, keeping your yard looking lush can become water consuming and labor intensive. But there are several ways to improve the performance of your garden during the hot summer months. With just a little preventative gardening, you can reduce moisture loss and decrease your time spent in the hot sun. Try these tips to conserve water during the blazing summer heat.

Amend the soil with organic matter

To set your yard up for successful drought gardening, start with your soil. Digging in organic matter (such as well-rotted compost) provides your plants much-needed nutrients, stimulates beneficial worm activity and improves soil moisture retention. Simply amend your soil in the spring, and your plants will be better able to withstand the heat of summer.

Group by water need

No matter the season, you can design a drought tolerant garden by growing plants with similar water needs together, especially vegetables, herbs and annuals. Deep-rooted crops such as tomatoes and winter squash are heavy feeders, thrive in the sun and require more water, while shallow-rooted crops such as spring radishes and salad greens grow well in partial shade and need less water. By grouping your plants by their sunlight and moisture needs, you can avoid over (or under) watering.

Apply mulch

Organic mulch is a must if you want to conserve moisture and insulate plant roots against the heat. Apply a natural mulch twice per year in the spring and fall. Garden beds and trees benefit from several inches of mulch spread over the soil, while containers need only an inch or two each season to help retain moisture.

Drought tolerant landscaping is a beautiful thing. It allows you to sit back and relax in the shade while reducing your water usage. By watering mindfully, making wise landscaping choices and performing a little preventative gardening care, you can stay cool knowing your yard will look hot all summer long.

Tagged in: bulbsCompostcontainer gardendroughtraised bedsave water

Explore more Gardening related topics

winter gardening tips

Winter Gardening Tips to Tackle in the Off Season

As winter marches on, avid gardeners become more and more eager to get growing. While you may not be able to dig your spade into the soil just yet, there is plenty...

Learn More

vegetable gardening how to

The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Vegetable Garden

Vegetable gardens are no longer just a thing for farmers and big backyards – these days, even an urbanite can grow food on a balcony or roof. In many locales, a front...

Get Started

Container Gardening Ideas for Small Spaces

Gardens don’t need a lot of space to be special, nor do they have to be in the ground at all. When it comes to limited spaces, such as windowsills, balconies, patios...

Dig In
We’re as social as a backyard barbeque. Come on over.