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Seasonal Tip

Gardening During a Drought
June 21, 2009

When meteorologists begin to talk about drought conditions, it doesn't mean that you have to give up on your gardening plans. By following some drought-wise tips, you can have your water and your garden too.

Plant Choices:
There are many drought tolerant plants available for purchasing. Look for plants with the following features:

  • Long taproot
  • Native to the area
  • Gray leafed plants covered with hairs (helps trap moisture)
  • Tiny leafed plants (They lose water less rapidly than larger leafed plants)
  • Succulents/Cactus

If you need to water, do it in the early morning. There tends to be less wind and heat at this time so less water is lost due to evaporation. The use of a water timer makes early morning watering easy. Soaker hoses are preferred over sprinklers. The hoses apply water only to the area needed, unlike overhead sprinklers. Do not water too often. Wait until you see signs of wilt before applying irrigation. When you do water, water deeply. This allows water to penetrate down into the soil, encouraging deeper roots, making the plant more drought tolerant.

  • Annuals and Perennials – 6" deep
  • Trees and Shrubs – 12" deepCheck your hoses; make sure there are no slow leaks, replace washers and hose fittings. One drip per second loses 9 gallons of water per day. Collect or save water to be used for your plants.

Sources include:

  • Rinse water from dishes
  • Shower water spent while running to become hot.
  • Water found in dehumidifiers and air conditioners.
  • Rainwater
  • Direct gutter downspouts directly into beds.

Fertilize Properly:
Over-fertilization results in an abundance of leaf growth, with both your plants and lawn. If the leaf growth is out of proportion to the root growth, the roots will not be able to supply enough moisture during dry conditions. It is better to use a slow release fertilizer which will deliver a steady supply of nutrients over a longer period of time.

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