Even with the likelihood of a drought in the Pacific Northwest again this year, there is no need to be resigned to wilted, brittle and brown plants this summer. There are many ways to keep a garden looking lush during summer, while conserving water. First, by analyzing the site environment, we can select the right plants for the existing conditions. The most successful plantings will be those that thrive in existing conditions. The less that has to be done to alter those conditions, the more successful the landscape plantings will be.
Water less often and more deeply. This encourages plants to develop deeper roots and draw from water stored deep below the surface of the soil. Shallow watering equals shallow roots and drier conditions for plants. After heavy rains or a deep watering, mulch garden beds to help seal in moisture and insulate roots from heat, resulting in less need for water. Prune back overgrown perennials and shrubs — fewer leaves mean less plant mass to support and less need for water. Never allow plants to wilt. Stressed plant are more susceptible to disease and insect infestation. These simple steps will keep plants healthy and therefore better looking, no matter what the weather does.
A drought tolerant garden requires thoughtful planning.
I like to draw from a palette offering an array of interesting flowers, leaf types and growth habits. I recently designed a garden that cascaded above a rock retaining wall using a combination of Artichoke, Barberry, Blue Oat Grass, Rock Rose and trailing Rosemary — all plants that not only survive, but thrive, in Northwest landscapes. Well drained soil, direct sun and conditions on the dry side are perfect! Once established, they will thrive with little or no watering.
Typically, most drought tolerant plants fall into the lower maintenance category. Many thrive in dry summer conditions and tolerate wet winters, making them excellent choices for the changeable Pacific Northwest climate.
Here’s to summer around the corner and an easy care, beautiful garden!