RSPB Dovestone, planting wildflowers at the base of a Memory Tree, Derbyshire

Drought tolerant plants & tips for droughts

Here are some tips on how to plant for times when water is scarce and how to get the most out of your garden.

Planting for drought

Many gardens throughout the UK have experienced water stress in recent years. Hosepipe bans have meant that many plants have struggled to survive.

How to get the most from gardens sensitive to dry conditions:

  • Have the potential to store natural sources of water to use when drought occurs. The autumn is a good time to buy water butts and rain and grey water storage systems.
  • When watering your plants, apply the water at the base, close to the soil, and not over the plants - most of this water will evaporate.
  • When preparing an area for planting, incorporate a mix of gravel and organic matter, such as leaf litter or manure. This mulch will allow the soil to maintain moisture.
  • Replenish mulch around the base of plants during the growing season. Grass clippings are effective and easy to use.
  • Plant trees, shrubs, and climbers in autumn and early winter. The plants will establish quicker and there is less of a need to water them the following summer during spells of drought.
  • When planting a mixed border, try planting closer together. The dense vegetation cover increases humidity and reduces evaporation.
  • Select plants that can cope with dry conditions. The types of species that do well are usually associated with the Mediterranean, coastal and arid conditions. Sea holly, sedum, lavender and grasses will be successful in most dry gardens.
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