A drought can be a gardener’s worst nightmare! Hot and humid conditions are slowly becoming a norm in Southern Ontario and are affecting the way we garden and our surrounding landscape. The experts at Tillsonburg Garden Gate have compiled a few tips and tricks that can help you during a drought season.
The most obvious tip that we can offer during a drought is to water your garden more. Most garden plants need approximately one inch of water per week. This is easier said than done! Most municipalities or cities have instituted water bans for the summer. If you are in our region, a water ban in the summer is automatically put into place during June, July and August. The trick is to water smart.
What does this mean exactly? This means capturing water when it does rain. This is known as rainwater harvesting. During the summer months, approximately 40% of your water usage is for lawn and garden. Using a rain barrel (or 3) can save thousands of liters of water each season and allow you to water when you want to, not when you have to.
When you do water, water the roots directly instead of using a sprinkler. Sprinklers tend to miss the root system, with water settling on the leaves of the plant and not hitting the soil. Timing is everything when it comes to a garden. Watering in the late evening allows water to settle into the ground and there is less chance of it evaporating after the sun goes down.
Organics and Polymers
The use of mulch and other organic materials is also recommended when trying to retain moisture. Mulch adds a layer of protection over the soil that prevents dry out. It also offers a layer of protection from damaging uv rays and will protect the roots against sun burn or tissue damage.
Using fertilizers during a drought is not recommended. Fertilizers require a lot of moisture. When that moisture is gone, fertilizer can burn your plants, grass and their root system. Fertilizers should only be used during damper periods such as early spring or fall season.
Many gardeners are turning to the use of water absorbing polymers in their garden or containers. Polymers work by absorbing a large quantity of water and then slowly releasing that water back into the soil through osmosis. Polymers continue to water your plants long after you put your hose away.
Know What You Are Planting
Let’s face it, annuals tend to be water hungry whereas perennials tend to be more drought tolerant. Perennials are generally more established into the soil and reach further for water within the ground instead of relying upon rain or irrigation. Don’t get me wrong, there is a wide variety of drought tolerant annuals that can add colour to your garden but litre for litre, perennials perform best in dry, hot conditions. It also cuts down on the maintenance and planting in the spring and fall.
Knowing which plants are native to the region is especially helpful. Native plants are accustomed to our climate, it has been bred into them so finding Ontario grown flowers that sustain in your growing zone can cut your watering in half.
When In Doubt, Ask an Expert
The staff at Tillsonburg Garden Gate are trained to provide the best possible advice for your garden and landscaping. Drop by for a consultation and our experts will be glad to provide you will advice and recommendations that will help you through your drought period.