Drought tolerant perennials are popular these days, especially with those of you in the midst of a heat wave as we are here in Ontario. Even if you have an irrigation system, these hardy perennials should be a staple in your garden to avoid wasting your money on plants and water. Just be sure to place the hoses or plants (whichever you install last) strategically. For example, ornamental grasses (and most other drought tolerant plants) do not appreciate wet feet. In fact, the quickest way to kill them off is to overwater them.
Here are a few drought tolerant perennials that I rely on for hot summer color:
stonecrop and sedum, available in multiple colors, great for hot borders
lavender and spruce
If you haven’t already, consider adding some to your gardens, just be sure to wait until the heat wave is over to do so!
Why do the weeds in my gardens, sidewalks and lawn continue to thrive in this hot weather, when the grass and flowers struggle? On close inspection, the only part of my lawn that looks green are weeds.
On principle, I refuse to get out there every morning or evening to waste water on my lawn in these drought conditions, so every year my south facing, front lawn looks pretty sad in July and August. Unfortunately this year the parched, yellow, straw look started in mid-May!
Remember that grass is supposed to go dormant in these hot, dry conditions and will revive naturally with a few rainy days. We did have a bit of rain last week so the grass did recover somewhat, but this week’s forecast is for more sun and heat, so the recovery won’t last.
After a heavy rainfall is the best time to pull WEEDS in your lawn or gardens out by hand so you get the whole root, otherwise the weeds keep coming back to haunt you. After the weeds are all pulled from your gardens, apply a thick layer of mulch to deter them from coming back too soon. Weed seeds blowing around or carried around by birds will germinate in mulch too, but the mature weeds will be much easier to pull out when their roots are growing in mulch instead of soil.
I had the pleasure of planting a garden in TEXAS this past January, something totally different for my GARDENS4U business located here in Ottawa, Ontario.
Texas obviously has its own gardening issues, with extreme drought and heat at the top of the list. I chose a variety of succulents and cacti for the focal points of this garden as well as the ground cover between the larger plants. As the ground cover fills in, weeds are choked out and both the roots of the specimen plantings and the soil are protected from the extreme temperatures and drought conditions…
Ground covers also work well in containers for the same reasons. Because soil in containers dries out faster than soil in a garden, the use of ground covers can reduce the amount of water your containers need to stay healthy looking. Nutrients in the soil are depleted slower too when the soil is protected. Planted just inside the rim of the container, the ground covers can “spill” over the edge and cascade down the side of the container, creating a beautiful focal point for your patio, deck or porch…
This summer I had the pleasure of being part of an awesome project. My neighbour decided she was tired of “feeding the grubs” that were destroying the grass in her front yard each year. When I told her of my plan to retire from the healthcare industry to start up a gardening company, she enlisted my help to design and plant a grass-free front yard. Her yard makeover became Gardens4u’s first project. Although the sweltering heat slowed us down a bit, we perservered, slowly creating our masterpiece. Many curious neighbours walked and drove by, stopping to admire our progress, especially when their yards were slowly turning a crispy yellow with the heat and drought. The finished product is stunning, and since I live across the street, I enjoy the best view! The project was a “team” effort with many heads and hands involved…..
To get some inspiration for this first project, my neighbour and I drove around looking at and taking pictures of other grass-free yards in our area. This step helped us visualize what we wanted and also what we didn’t want in our design. We then took measurements of her yard, working with the existing landscaping features she planned to keep, such as the stone wall installed several years ago, the neighbour’s garden and grass, the driveway, the road etc. Slowly, but very methodically, we created a design on paper of what would be soil/plants/mulch and what would be rock.
Next, we called on Sean Fagan and his crew from Shamrock Painting and Finishing to remove the sod, which would have been a back-breaking and time consuming job for us. When the sod was gone, we transferred our design to the dirt surface so Sean and his team could then position and install the edging between the sections, and shovel the soil and two different sizes of river rock into the designated areas.
While they were doing that, perennials and shrubs were chosen to plant in the soil. I must admit to being a plant shopaholic, so picking out and purchasing plants was right up my alley! A variety of bloom and foliage color, shape, size and bloom time was selected, with a mixture of evergreen and deciduous plants, so that the garden would look great from all angles as well as all year around. We also dug up, divided and moved many existing plants, incorporating them into the plan. Plants were spaced well apart so when full grown they will not be overcrowded. The finishing touch was a layer of black cedar mulch to prevent the soil from drying out and to keep the weeds from taking over. The black color is beautiful, like freshly watered soil, contrasting nicely with the green plants.
Photos below are before, during and after the completion of our project….I can’t wait to see what it looks like when the plants fill out in summers to come!