Rich green plantings in the spring landscape can become parched and need supplemental watering by mid-summer. Planting drought tolerant plants, trees and shrubs can conserve water and require less maintenance. During times of drought, selecting a proper irrigation method and choosing the right location for your plants will reduce your water costs and lessen your yard work. Planning a drought-resistant landscape with drought tolerant plants, a water-saving irrigation system and mulch will ensure your garden survives the summer heat.
Drought-tolerant plants have low water requirements and are heat-tolerant. These plants have deep root systems that seek out the groundwater well below the soil’s surface. Their hardy root systems lessen the risk of disease and pests. As an added benefit, drought-tolerant plants are ideal for hillsides or other areas that are subject to erosion. Vegetation with low water requirements includes trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines and perennials.
Selecting a few of the following varieties for your landscape will ensure less water usage: The carob tree (Ceratonia siliqua), olive tree (Olea europaea), Catalina cherry (Prunis lyonii) and western redbud (Cercis occidentalis) are all trees that tolerate drought well. Mock orange (Pittosporum), Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis), rock rose (Cistus villosus) and lavender cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus) are examples of shrubs with low-water requirements. Ground covers, vines and perennials that are drought-tolerant include wild strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), wooly yarrow (Achillea tomentosa), candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) and butterfly iris (Dietes).
Arrange your vegetation according to their moisture requirements. Michael T. Loos at the Ohio State University Extension states that you should group your plants according to their water needs, placing the least thirsty plants farthest away from the water source. He suggests grouping plants by using “very low, low and moderate water zones” for irrigation. Plants in the “very low water zone” require no supplemental watering and can be placed furthest away from the water source. Plants in the “low and moderate water zones” do require supplemental watering and should be located closer to the water source. Planting your landscape in this manner will allow you to differentiate plants that need daily watering from those that need occasional or no supplemental watering.
Properly irrigating your landscape will reduce water-usage. Overhead-watering and sprinkler systems lose water to evaporation and run-off. Trickle and drip irrigation systems are placed near the base of the plant and target the root system, reducing evaporation. Drip or trickle irrigation requires a head, tubing and emitters. Tubing can consist of soaker hoses or slotted piping. Soaker hoses are laid upon the ground and can be easily relocated, whereas slotted piping requires installation. Drip or trickle systems require planning and routine maintenance but are not expensive, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Mulching around your plants will reduce the need for water in your landscape. This reduces weeds that compete for moisture and lowers the temperature of the soil. Inorganic mulches include plastic and gravel. Organic mulches include sphagnum peat moss, compost, bark and pine needles. Organic mulches decompose over time and enrich the soil.