How to Prepare Your Garden for Drought
So far in 2018, some parts of the country have experienced a rather dry spring and early summer.
Unfortunately, a lack of rainfall can often lead to hosepipe bans – in times of water shortage, it can be one of the first restrictions to be imposed, to try to conserve what we have.
This can be bad news for our gardens as they begin to dry out and to look a little wilted.
But the good news is that with proper preparation and by employing a few handy tricks, you can continue gardening as normal through a drought, and your garden can continue to flourish, just as it does through times when we receive plenty of rainfall.
This is the topic that we’re focusing on in our latest gardening tips blog post.
We have compiled a list of tips and ideas to help drought-proof your garden in preparation for the potentially long summer ahead.
Apply Mulch to Beds
You may have noticed from reading some of our previous blog posts that we are big fans of bark mulch.
That is because installing bark mulch to your plant beds offers a whole host of benefits.
During times of water shortage, bark mulch can play a key role in ensuring moisture remains within your beds, as it helps to reduce water evaporation.
It can also help to reduce water runoff, by trapping water and holding on to the moisture.
Appling bark mulch to your beds needn’t be expensive. You can pick it up in small 25kg bags or, if you are looking to cover a larger area, you may wish to purchase it in larger, bulk bags, as that will work out to be far more cost-effective.
Bark mulch has many other advantages: it also helps to keep weeds at bay and it can help protect your plants from frost damage during the winter months.
To help prepare your garden for drought, we highly recommend applying a 2-inch layer of bark mulch to your plant beds.
Water Your Garden
This is a pretty obvious piece of advice but, as your garden begins to suffer from water shortage, you’ll need to start watering it more.
Plants need water for photosynthesis, the process that plants undertake to create their food, and water is a big part of this process.
Of course, should there be a hosepipe ban in force, you should not, under any circumstances, use your hosepipe to water your garden.
The most environmentally friendly way to keep your garden hydrated during times of drought is to recycle your water.
Recycling your household waste water – known as ‘grey water’ – is a great way to water your garden without having an impact on the environment.
Grey water can be obtained from various sources around the house, including from baths, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers.
Even if you prefer the shower to a bath, you can always put the plug in the bath tub to collect your shower water.
The important thing to remember is not to put any water on your plants that may cause them harm.
Water that contains chemicals – such as bleach or disinfectant – or faecal contamination, should not be put on your plants.
A well as using grey water, we highly recommend installing a water butt to harvest rainfall from rooftops and drainage pipes.
You can pickup a water butt from your local garden centre or DIY shop at a relatively low cost and, during times of drought, your water butt could be a real lifesaver.
There are very few of us that actually get enjoyment from weeding, although pulling out a stubborn weed can sometimes be strangely satisfying.
And it’s not just that weeds can damage the attractiveness of your garden; they also need water to survive and so will be stealing some of the moisture from the soil to satisfy their own needs.
They compete with your plants and shrubs, leaving them water-starved and vulnerable.
So, to reduce the water requirements of your garden, all weeds must go.
Most weeds can be removed by hand or using a weeding tool or, as a last resort, you could consider using a chemical weedkiller.
Plant Drought-Tolerant Plants & Shrubs
Another way to prepare your garden for drought is to consider planting plants and shrubs that require a minimal amount of water.
Many drought-tolerant plants have grey or silver coloured leaves. This can not only help you to identify suitable plants, it also has the practical use of reflecting sunlight.
Some may even have small hairs, which are present to trap moisture around the plant’s tissues.
Palm trees make excellent choices, as they naturally require very little water, and very little maintenance, either. Cordylines or Chinese windmill palms (Trachycarpus fortunei) make for good choices.
There are also many different types of conifer that require very little moisture to survive and their evergreen nature will add plenty of colour to your garden throughout the entire year.
Perennials, grasses and climbers should also be considered.
Install Artificial Grass
During times of drought, one of the first aspects to visibly suffer is your garden lawn.
Lawns need tremendous amounts of water in order to continue looking fresh and green.
During the summer months, garden lawns can require at least an inch of water per week. Multiply this over the total area of your lawn and you’ll release that that’s a lot of water!
The problem with requiring so much water is that it means the majority of lawns can only realistically be watered using a hosepipe or sprinkler system.
The major downside to this is that, of course, during times of hosepipe bans, using this equipment is forbidden.
So, to save on your garden’s water requirements, why not considering installing artificial grass?
You’ll no longer need to worry about your dry, brown grass, as synthetic turf stays looking lush and green all year round, come rain or shine.
What’s more, there are a whole host of other benefits that having an artificial lawn will bring to your garden.
It requires very little maintenance and, of course, will no longer need mowing, which will free up plenty of time to spend on other aspects of your garden.
It is also pet- and child-friendly, free from harmful toxins and substances, improves drainage and will add value to your property.
In our increasingly warmer and drier climate, it can be difficult to maintain your garden in the way that you would like – and hosepipe bans especially can make this task feel like an uphill struggle.
But there are many options available to you that will ensure that your garden can still be a showstopper, even in times of drought.
Caring for the environment is extremely important for everyone, to ensure that future generations can all enjoy the world we live in without suffering the effects of human-induced climate change.
Through some clever techniques, it is possible to maintain a lush green garden without it having an impact on the environment – recycling your household grey water, for example, should be something that we all look to do all year round, not just in times of drought.
Do you have any other ideas that you think we should have included in our list? Then why not leave us a comment below? Your input would be useful in helping others learn how to improve their gardens, especially in times of drought.