drought conditions and watering restrictions commonplace in communities around
the country, the issue of watering lawns and gardens is on the minds of
many—including me. One thing I've done to reduce the amount of watering I do
is to create an entire garden devoted to xeriscape plants—plants that are
happy in low-water conditions.
Less water doesn't mean
an ugly garden
I'm not talking cactus and rocks. I garden in St. Paul,
Minnesota, so these aren't exactly desert conditions. My low-water garden
blooms nonstop from March until the first snowfall. and no matter how hot or
dry the summer is, I don't water this garden at all. Everything growing there
does well with only the available rainfall we have in any given season. In the
past few years. we've had drought conditions, and my xeric (drought-tolerant)
garden has thrived through it all.
Poor soil is a plus
My xeric garden was built on the debris leftover from our
four-year house addition project. I was left with gravel, chunks of old
concrete and infertile soil. Rather than cart in truckloads of expensive loam,
I decided to turn my yard's poor soil to my advantage.
The most important thing I've learned is that careful plant
choice, lean soil and excellent drainage are key to a healthy and gorgeous drought-tolerant garden. And benign neglect. At first I was resistant to the idea of
leaving the plants to fend for themselves in rocky soil and dry weather. It's
hard to break a lifetime habit of adding soil amendments and heavy mulch. But
those things kill xeriscape plants because their roots rot if they sit in too
much water (especially during the winter).
Check out xeric
One great resource for information and plants is High
Country Gardens (visit highcountrygardens.com). Their catalog and Web site are
a treasure trove of information about xeric gardening, and they sell wonderful
plants that do well with less water for every region of the country. If you
think low-water gardens are just cactus-filled bores, you're in for a wonderful
surprise. Try transforming an area of your yard into a low-water garden. You'll
use the hose less and enjoy the blooms just as much.
— Elisa Bernick,
These gardening tips will make
your gardening chores easier.
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