What to do with that dry, dry garden

Dry earth

So it’s been hot. Maybe it’s been really, really hot where you are. Perhaps you’re in the south, in which case it could be hot soon. What’s a gardener to do? If you’re searching for the places where drought and gardening come together, here are a few ideas to help you shape your future garden.

1. Think about what you want from your garden. Do you want a play space for the children? Would you like to sit outside in the shade and read a book? Are you looking for a paradise for pollinators and birds? Would you like to grow your own food? Or are your goals a mixture of all of these things? Having clear goals helps you save water and grow sensibly because it helps you plan for the future.

2. Take a look at your garden right now. Be honest. What’s thriving? What do you have to water the most? What’s really in failing health? What have you had to plant again and again? This will tell you a lot about what plants work where in your garden.

Now, take another look. Look at the soil and the shade and the water in your garden. Feel the soil. Where is it cool? Is it damp anywhere in the morning after the dew? Move around your garden. Where is it shady? Where is it really sunny? Do this over the course of a day, since patterns of sun and shade move throughout the day. Can you see any connections between the plants that are thriving and that places that are sunny and shady, wet and dry?

3. Make a plan for the future. You can do this in two ways. One is that you react to what’s already in your garden and work with it. Let’s say that you want to grow vegetables and flowers. You have discovered that you have a shady spot under a tree that traps moisture and creates shade. You love lettuce, and that seems like a good place for it. You’ve discovered that a couple of drought-adapted flowers are doing really well in your front garden, but others are dying. Plant more of those flowers.

The other strategy is to create more of the conditions you want. Perhaps your soil is very dry all around your garden. Add a mulch layer to keep the moisture in. Perhaps you’ve discovered that there’s no shade anywhere in the garden. When it’s a little wetter in the fall, plant a drought-resistant tree or a shrub that will create some shade for you and for your plants.

By changing your garden and using drought-friendly practices like mulching and creating shade, your garden will become a little more tolerant to harsh conditions. By observing your garden, you can switch to the plants that work for your space. While it’s hard to be a gardener in dry times, it’s not impossible – it just takes a lot more thinking about your garden environment.

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