Three tips for a successful garden when water is scarce.

It seems like more and more frequently our gardens are called upon to struggle through periods of drought. These times of water scarcity seem to drag on for longer periods with each subsequent occurrence, putting our landscapes under extreme stress. Rather than gardening per usual and hoping for the best, plan your garden from the outset to use water wisely.

Follow these three tips as you prepare your garden to not just survive but thrive with limited moisture.

Install Water-wise Plantings

Use “water-wise” plants that naturally need less water to grow. These plants use a number of water-saving tactics such as having water-storing leaves, grass- or needle-like foliage or a silvery light-green coloration. Some waterwise Sunset Plant Collection varieties include:

  • The grass-like Platinum Beauty Lomandra, a low-water-use perennial, and the first Lomandra with green-and-white-striped variegation.
  • Grevillea, a 6-ft. low-maintenance shrub that shrugs off drought while still providing abundant colorful blooms for hummingbirds and pollinators galore. Sunset Plants has three varieties including this vibrant Eternal Pink Glory.  
  • Bambina Pineapple Guava, a low-water fruiting shrub with gray-green foliage that not only sails through drought conditions but also gifts you tasty guava-like treats each fall.

Use Water-Wise Irrigation Techniques

Limit the water you waste when irrigating your garden. Use techniques and equipment that can help you direct water to where your plants need it most—their roots.

  • Wind drip tubing or soaker hoses around your plantings
  • Use automatic timers for irrigation systems
  • Bury ollas, or clay pots, and fill with water, allowing it to slowly seep directly into the root zone
  • Turn your nozzle to a slower trickle and direct the water to the plant's root zone, allowing the water to slowly soak into the ground.

Apply Compost and Mulch

Keep what moisture you have in the soil rather than allowing it to evaporate. Do this by:

  • Working moisture-holding compost into the soil when you plant.
  • Applying a 2- to 3-in. layer of mulch around your plantings after an initial soaking.
  • Limiting water-stealing weeds in your planting beds.

In times like these, don’t pin your hopes on rain - prepare the gardens for drought. Using the above tips, your plants can concentrate on growth rather than worrying about rain clouds.