Info from Home Depot Garden Club

Drought Tolerant Gardening Basics

Beyond the west and southwest, where average rainfall is often below 10 inches, drought tolerant landscapes offer a solution to areas of the country that have experienced extended periods of drought. With the right plants, you can conserve water and still have a beautiful garden.

Even if you are not in the midst of a drought, there may be an area of your landscape or property that has restricted irrigation due to the logistics of getting water to that area. Grouping drought tolerant plants together in these areas is the perfect solution. Here are some things to know.

Drought-Resistant vs. Drought-Tolerant

Drought-Resistant

Falls into the category of Xeriscaping (pronounced Zeer-ih referring to “dry”, and not “Zero” as in “no water”) and consists of plants that can survive with minimal water throughout their daily lives. This group includes native scrub plants, cactus and many succulents. While they survive under these conditions, their beauty is brief and fleeting, generally after a seasonal rain or two, followed by a long dormant period. With the exception of cacti and succulents, most of the plants in this category are not suitable for general, or drought tolerant landscaping.

Drought-Tolerant

Plants (unlike regular landscape plants that need a regular, consistent supply of water to survive) are able to survive with some supplemental, sporadic watering if an occasional natural rainfall can’t be relied on. These plants include a wide range of perennials and grasses with not only beautiful blooms in a rainbow of colors but also unique foliage colors and textures. When “drought” and “plants” are used in the same breath, often the first plants that come to mind are cacti and succulents. While they can be part of a drought tolerant scheme, there are many additional choices.

The Number One Killer

Of a drought tolerant landscape program is a simple misunderstanding. Drought tolerant plants are only effective once they have become established. Plants fresh from the nursery only have a root system as large as the pot they were grown in, and that’s fine up to that point. In the ground, a drought tolerant plant has a complex, wide reaching root system that allows it to take advantage of every morsel of water that becomes available. This means there is a transitional period of up to six months (if planted during the active growing season) in which the newly placed plants will need regular watering and feeding to allow them time to establish a root system that will allow them the freedom of less water. Once they become established, they offer year after year of water wise beauty to your landscape.

Click here to search by Special Feature for a list of drought tolerant plants that are appropriate for your area.

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