With all of the new gardening lingo, even the most experienced gardener may be intimidated by today’s nurseries. It doesn’t help that one nursery may call a plant drought-resistant and another call the same one drought-adapted! Cut out the confusion by reading the list of gardening terms, definitions, and applications below.
“Drought-tolerant,” “Drought-resistant,” “Drought-adapted,”
In all practical terms, these phrases mean the same thing! A drought tolerant garden is one that is able to thrive in high heat and low water conditions without demanding large extra quantities of water. In other words, it is a plant that can get by on just rainfall. That being said, not all locations are created equal. A drought in the valley can look very different from a drought in the desert. Because of this, when planning your own drought tolerant garden, you need to first understand your own microclimate (the climate conditions specific to your backyard). Watch the way the sunlight hits your space and where shade appears — not all drought-resistant plants like direct sunlight! Also consider how windy your space is because plants lose water faster in places with hot, dry winds. Lastly, check the drainage of your soil by digging a foot-deep hole and filling it with water. You want the water to be gone after an hour — not too fast or else the plant will dehydrate, but not too slow or else the roots will rot. While you may be very eager to start your drought-resistant garden as soon as possible, summer is not the best season to put in this type of garden. Plant between November and February to catch the winter rains and allow the roots to establish before the dry season. In the meantime, feel free to collect plants from local nurseries and store them until planting time.
Cacti may be the most famous drought-resistant plants; however, they are not the only drought-resistant plants! Look for the following species the next time you are at a nursery to start your own drought-adapted garden:
Looking for more drought-resistant plants? Find a longer list here.
Water-wise gardening (or ‘xeriscaping’) is the use of landscaping and gardening techniques to help conserve water while maintaining a beautiful garden. This can be done in many ways, but here are four water-wise gardening examples you can achieve in your garden today!
A native garden is a garden that only has plants that would naturally occur in that environment. So why plant native? Native gardens in Southern California have been shown to use 85% less water per year, produce 60% less green waste per year, and require 70% less maintenance per year! They also can provide a habitat for the local wildlife and attract pollinators like hummingbirds and bees. However, just because a plant is native, does not mean that it is drought-tolerant. Many California plants are used to being near streams and actually require a lot of water. Be sure to review a plant’s water and light needs before purchasing it for your garden. Below are some ideas of California native plants you can plant:
Looking for native plants specific to your area? Find a longer list here.
A common buzzword heard around gardens these days is “sustainable.” Sustainable refers to the ability to be supported. To have a sustainable garden, you must have a garden that does not hurt the environment nor remove all of its natural resources. In essence, sustainable gardening is a holistic gardening approach that blends practices together to achieve the happiest, most environmentally-friendly garden. One method of sustainable gardening is to compost. Composting not only enriches your soil, it also reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers which can pollute our waterways. It also prevents green waste from going to landfill and instead returns those nutrients back into your soil. Start collecting garden clippings, food scraps, and paper towels to create your own compost. You can also have a more sustainable gardening by changing your plant selection. Rather than reaching for the pesticide, consider planting a diverse selection of species. By creating biodiversity in your own backyard, your plants will be more resilient towards pests and diseases. Plant drought-resistant and native species wherever possible!
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