Watering the Garden: You Can Relax this Summer

Right now it’s hard to imagine that the super-saturated ground in the Seattle area will ever dry out. But it will, and quickly — remember last summer? It doesn’t take long once the dry season comes. And the last few years, we have even been surprised by some hot days early in the season.

If you are not into watering by hand and have ruled out automated watering — or if you simply want to conserve natural resources — you’ll need to:

  1. Start with the right plants
  2. Use water efficiently

At the peak of summer, few gardens can get by without some supplemental watering (the exceptions being certain types of plants and trees that are very well established, or a rock garden).

Look at the lawn

Let’s start by drought-proofing your lawn. Grass is an expensive ground cover, and if it’s not watered and maintained, it’s a brown eyesore for months. Think about replacing that lawn with a stepable ground cover or drought-tolerant succulents.  Most are very easy to grow and many can also handle soggy Northwest winters.

Drought-tolerant plants, native and non-native

When looking at drought-tolerant plants for the garden, it’s easy to get bogged down in plant selection. Northwest native plants might sound like a good choice. They are already adapted to this climate and can survive a short dry spell. However, our yards aren’t much like the environments where these plants naturally occur, so there is no guarantee of success. And, sad to say, most native plants don’t offer much in the way of “eye candy” in the summer garden. If you are a purist and want a native plant garden, you will find a long list of easy-to-grow plants — just don’t demand too much of them in the way of appearance.

If you add drought-tolerant plants that are non-natives into the mix, you’ll find there are a lot more possibilities. Colorful perennials, plants with interesting leaves, bark, and fall color are readily available. You can see examples of this type of garden, mixing native and non-native plants, in my online Portfolio.

Previous Design Tips blog posts talk about my top picks for plants, shrubs, and trees that do well in the Pacific Northwest.

Designing the water-wise garden

Working with plants on a regular basis for years, I’ve learned what conditions they need to thrive in our region. This helps me decide what plants to use for any application — and, just as importantly, what plants not to use.

Once the framework for a garden design starts to take shape, then plant selection is an important part of making the landscape work. That’s when considerations like ease of maintenance and drought tolerance come into play. But keep in mind that there are many other criteria that influence what type of plants will thrive in your garden, especially in a sunny Northwest summer.

Call us  for a consultation to discuss garden enhancements, landscape renovations and sustainable gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Landscape Design with Succulents brings new life to the summer garden

By definition, Succulent plants are plants that have some parts that are more than normally thickened or fleshy usually to retain water in acrid climates or soil conditions.  This means, universally, they store water and are drought tolerant.

Sedum is a genus of over 400 leaf Succulents including hardy perennial bushes that that can grow as tall as four feet.  These low maintenance gems provide an array of foliage and flower variations.  Nearly indestructible and virtually disease resistant, the species that thrive in the Pacific Northwest do best in full sun, in average to poor soil with good drainage, and little or no supplemental water.  At this time of year, Succulents are a great way to refresh pots and add to perennial borders or annual plantings that need a boost.  Tender varieties that will not make it though the winter in this climate (mostly due to soggy winters causing them to rot), lend a dramatic and almost desert or tropical feel during the warmer months of the Pacific Northwest.  Varieties like ‘Metallica’ (pictured) grow to several inches across offering great scale and a wonderful spectrum of color variation.

With hundreds of varieties to choose from, the possibilities are endless!

Michael Muro Garden Design offers garden planning and comprehensive landscape design in Washington State.

 

 

 

 

Vignettes

Some scenes from new projects by MMGD.

Image Gallery

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