If you are laying out your garden in a dry climate, assuming you have a limited water supply and not large quantities of underground, or piped water, you will have to do some careful planning and research. Dry climates vary greatly from areas where the rain falls seasonally or only once a month or so, to extreme conditions, where rain is seldom seen.
Although generally, dry climates tend to be hot, some regions can become chilly at night and drop below zero in winter. Although you may experience frosts in winter, because of the low water content of the soil, roots and bulbs do not freeze as easily as they do in a wet climate.
Your nearest nursery should be able to help you choose the type of plants suitable for the climate. If you have an indigenous nursery in the area, you will probably find that the local wild flowers and trees will thrive in your garden with very little trouble and the minimum of extra water. Most people choosing this kind of garden tend to mimic the natural surroundings as well, if the wild has a natural beauty that appeals to them.
If, however, you have non-indigenous plants and flowers that you love, you are going to have to arrange them in a way that uses the least amount of water. Here are a few ideas for you to consider when you design your garden:
* Try and re-use all household ‘grey’ water. Direct bathwater in particular to drums or tanks. They are perfectly good for flower beds. In fact, the soap may even remove aphids!
* Set up a concrete rainwater tank to catch whatever water you can from the gutters of your roof.
* A watering system is a great water saver, especially if you use drip feeds or wet hoses under a mulch. Avoid sprayers or micro misters. You’ll waste a lot of water that way to evaporation, especially if the weather is sunny and hot.
* Avoid planting water-hungry plants on a slope. They will dry out faster than other parts of the garden and need more frequent watering.
* If you have a swimming pool, store all the back-wash water for garden use. If you use hydrogen peroxide for purification the water will not harm your plants. If you use chlorine, let the water stand in a drum in the sun for a few days then test whether the chlorine has dissipated. Then it will be fine for the garden.
* If you have a section of the garden for vegetables, herbs or cut flowers, consider setting up a tank with gravity fed water tapped to circles of wet hose that surround it. You will use a fraction of the normal amount of water for a garden and a large tank lasts weeks and gives you lush growth. You turn the tap on only when the soil below the surface becomes dry.
* Remove the lids and the bases of 2 Litre plastic cold drink bottles and bury them base upwards so they slightly protrude from the ground. When the soil is moist a small amount of water will accumulate inside. Using a cotton swab on a long stick, you can test whether the soil is moist and save unnecessary watering.
* Lastly, make use of pavers, stones, logs, and garden rock features. Moisture stays longer below and around them and many plants love growing against and in between them. Use pots with water loving plants in amongst the more drought resistant types and you can create a lovely display. Use mulches of all kinds, suitable for the plants you choose.