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Helping your Garden Cope with Drought

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  • Install water barrels to catch water from your gutters.
  • Save and reuse household waste water including unwanted cold water from the hot tap and water used to prepare vegetables for cooking.
  • Increase the soil’s capacity to hold water by regularly digging in organic matter (compost, seaweed, manures).
  • Keep weeding down to a minimum. Hoeing or pulling weeds exposes moist soil from below the surface, and leads to further loss of moisture.
  • Leave lawns to go brown (they will recover); spiking lawns in early summer means that they can readily rehydrate when rains come.
  • Mulch to retain moisture, particularly in early spring, to reduce surface evaporation in summer.
  • Consider growing plants that are able to withstand periods of drought such as grey-leafed plants, Mediterranean, Australian and South African plants.
  • Group plants according to moisture requirements.
  • Plant shrubs and trees in the fall, when the soil is still warm, and take advantage of higher rainfall to encourage root development.
  • Buy young plants in small pots for planting out, as they will adapt more readily to changing soil water conditions than larger container-grown plants.
  • Target water onto the soil rather than letting it fall on foliage.
  • Water drought-susceptible plants thoroughly every few days rather than little and often.
  • Sink a cut-down plastic bottle upside-down into the soil next to recent plantings to direct water to the roots.
  • Group container plants together and provide a saucer to collect drainage water (empty water in the saucer back into the plant; watch for mosquitoes).
  • Remember that West Coast Natives are masters at surviving dry conditions.
  • If you want a hanging basket, consider using succulents to make one. They need very little moisture.