Drought Tolerant Gardens

Drought tolerant Gardens

What crazy weather we have been having! Well as the old saying goes ” It never rains but it pours ” La Nina has certainly cast out our long reigning El Nino. Though water has been plenty of late we should always keep in mind the fact that we are a land of extreme climatic conditions and a drought is always around the corner, so the use of drought resistant plants is still essential when creating a garden that will survive the dry spells.We at Abben Art  have a wealth of experience with drought tolerant plants and have witnessed first hand  what plants really are drought tolerant and others, which make this claim but have varying levels coping with dry conditions. It is  important to plan your outdoor living areas so that you minimise the use of our precious water recources. There are many ways to do this which include:

Selecting drought tolerant plants for your garden

  • Plant drought tolerant plants. There is a wide range of drought resistant plants that are able to cope with lack of water. Try to use plants that are indigenous to your area as a first choice, and if these do not suit your needs then look at plants from other parts of the world with similar climatic conditions.
  • Group plants with similar water needs. You might have some plants that you like that need a little more water than other plants. If you group these together then you can target different areas with different irrigation patterns, rather than watering everywhere with the same amount of water. This is one of the reasons to keep any vegetables in the same spot. A veggie patch can actualy save water because home grown veggies use less water to grow than shop bought ones.
The pictures below are of some planting in Kings Park, Perth. It shows Australian natives that are very drought tolerant.




The picture above is of a newly planted garden with no irrigation system The picture above is of the same garden 3 years later. This garden is now very drought tolerant and has no irrigation system. The plants were watered when planted and have only had occasional hand watering on extreme heat days.

Clive sourced the plants and then showed the clients how to lay them out and they then planted them.



Clive then offered a follow up service to check on plant health and offer pruning advice. This is the same drought tolerant garden 3 years later.


Irrigation in the garden

  • Install a rain water tank. These come in all shapes and sizes and can be put under your house or even used as garden or boundary walls!
  • Install a gray water system. This stores and re-uses the water from your shower and laundry. There can be problems with constantly using this on your plants due to the phosphates in detergents and the increase of soil alkalinity as a result of over-use. If uses sparingly it should be fine, or alternatively consider using this for your toilets, thus reducing water consumption.
  • Water wisely. Install dripper systems and set them to come on during your watering days during the night. Clive can recommend professional irrigators for any advice and service you need when deciding on a drought resistant garden.
Mulch helps drought tolerance

  • Mulch reduces evaporation by creating a protective layer between the soil and sun.
  • Coarse mulch helps water absorption by “trapping” the water rather than letting it run of
  • By keeping the sun off the soil, plant roots are kept cooler and under less stress.
  • Mulch can be either organic or inorganic. Organic mulches consist of broken down plants and can include everything from compost and straw to coarse bark chips. Remember that smaller particle composts will break down more quickly than coarse mulches. Inorganic mulches consist of things like: gravel, pebbles, stones, recycled glass and plastics. Whilst most of these mulches do not add nutrients to the soil, they do not break down and so last longer. The variety of colours can also create a good effect

Garden Maintenance

  • Keep your garden weed free. Weeds compete with your plants for water, so remove the competition!
  • Keep your mulch topped up. How often you need to do this depends on the type of mulch, but is worthwhile doing.
  • Pruning. Whilst appropriate pruning is generally a good idea, pruning in dry conditions can add extra stress on plants and is best avoided.
  • Keep an eye on your garden! Try to walk around your garden at least twice a week and look for plants that are showing signs of stress, eg. wilting. You can then water much more wisely.
  • Maintain your irrigation system and watch for leaks and blocked nozzles etc.
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