How To Create A Drought Proof Garden

Olearia Axillaris

How To Create A Drought Proof Garden

For many home owners choosing plants for your garden is a daunting task at the best of times. In times of drought and water restrictions, it can be even more difficult. So let us help you with this guide for selecting your plants and creating your Perth garden.

What To Look For

There are some obvious first steps in when creating a low water garden that will flourish in our hot, dry Perth summers. Some steps might be less obvious. Let’s look at them.

  • Choose native plants
  • Choose hardy exotic plants
  • Soil is important!
  • Reduce your lawn
  • Plant shade trees
  • Pay attention to the sun

Choose Native Plants

We all know now that local plant species that originate from the Perth area require minimal water to thrive and are a good option in almost any climate. There are also many Australian native species that grow exceptionally well in the Perth climate. This means you have LOTS to choose from, including groundcovers, shrubs and trees to suit any requirement, including shaded spaces. Here’s a list of just some of beautiful natives that are readily available:

  • Acacia cognata ‘Limelight’
  • Adenanthos cuneatus ‘Coral Carpet’
  • Adenanthos sericeus ‘Pencil Perfect Woolly Bush’
  • Anigozanthos species ‘Kangaroo Paw’
  • Banksia menziesii ‘Dwarf Firewood Banksia’
  • Boronia megastima ‘Brown Boronia’
  • Conostylis candicans ‘Grey Cottonhead’
  • Dianella revoluta ‘Little Rev’
  • Eucalyptus forrestiana ‘Fuchsia Gum’
  • Grevillea hybrid ‘Moonlight’
  • Hakea laurina ‘Pincushion Hakea’
  • Hemiandra pungens ‘Snakebush’
  • Lomandra longifolia ‘Tanika’
  • Oleara axillaris ‘Little Smokie’
  • Scaevola nitida ‘Shining Fanflower’
  • Syzygium australe ‘Lilly Pilly – Resilience’
  • Verticordia chrysantha ‘Yellow Featherflower’
  • Westringia fruticosa ‘Grey Box’

In addition to saving water, native plants are a food source for birds, bees and insects. 

Choose Hardy Exotic Plants

There are some amazing drought tolerant plants from all over the world that grow really well here in WA. They can add colour, texture, shade and plenty of style to your garden. So lets look at a few:

  • Agava attenuata ‘Century Plant’
  • Aloe hybrid ‘Erik the Red’
  • Crepe myrtle ‘Sioux’
  • Dietes bicolor ‘Mini Ballerina’
  • Furcraea foetida ‘Jet Stream’
  • Gazania hybrid ‘Sunset Jane’
  • Laurus nobilis ‘Bay Tree’
  • Lavandula pedunculata ‘Lavender – Sensation Purple’
  • Limonium perezii ‘Blue Statice’
  • Olea europaea ‘Olive Tree’
  • Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Rosemary Blue Lagoon’
  • Senecio serpens ‘Blue Chalk Sticks’
  • Yucca flaccida ‘Golder Sword’
  • Zamia furfuracea ‘Cardboard Palm’

This is just a tiny sample to get you started. Have fun creating your waterwise garden.

Soil Is Important!

The type and quantity of soil in your garden does make a difference to plant selection and plant health. Some plants prefer clay, some loam, and others like sandy soil.

However as you know, Perth is mostly sand. Sand without nutrients, or the capacity to hold moisture for long. So improving your sand with a high quality Native mix or Landscape mix soil will help a lot. And quality is the key. If the soil the bring in is mostly sand itself, then what help is it really doing?

Good quality soil with help to retain moisture and nutrients in your garden and give your plants the ability to sustain themselves for longer when the hot weather kicks in.

Do You Really Need A Lawn? 

Lawns are great for kids and animals, but they don’t need to be the entire focus of your garden. Large lawns just aren’t practical any more.

A healthy lawn requires regular watering, using far more water than that of a waterwise garden, and a lot of attention including mowing and fertilising. A small patch of lawn will still give you the space and cooling benefits while allowing you to reduce water use, and general maintenance requirements.

Perth lawn alternative

What if you want to get rid of your lawn altogether? What’s the alternative? You could consider:

  • Groundcovers such as Dichondra repens ‘Kidney Plant’, Thymus serpyllum ‘Creeping Thyme’, Carpobrotus glaucescens ‘Pigface’ or a low growing Grevilea.
  • Gravel or pebble path
  • A rock garden with feature cactus or succulents.
  • Bench seats and/or sculptures
  • A garden bed with low growing shrubs and stepping stones.

If you do want an area of lawn, choose a variety that requires less water and don’t scrimp on putting 50mm to 100mm of high quality compost or soil improver down before you lay the lawn. Cheap lawn sand will not hold the moisture or nutrients you need it to.

Plant Shade Trees

Trees for shade are a massive bonus to any garden. They look great, create a different micro-climate for your garden, and help to cool the air and therefore your home.

Deciduous trees such as Gleditsia ‘Sunburst’, Frangipanis, and Crepe Myrtles will drop their leave in winter and allow the summer warmth onto your lawn or home.

Evergreen trees such as Eucalyptus Caesia ‘Silver Princess’, Eucalyptus Erythrocorys ‘Red Cap Gum’, Agonis Flexuosa ‘Burgundy’, Olive Trees and many more will give you colour and life all year round. They also provide habitat and food for birds, bugs and bees, increasing the biodiversity and health of your garden.

Pay Attention To The Sun

Before you start to install anything in your garden, consider where the sun is at different times of the day and at different times of the year. Knowing where the hotter areas, eg afternoon summer sun, and more heavily shaded areas are, eg under trees and southern walls, will aid in your layout decisions.

The idea is to choose the right plants for the right location, to try and keep plants out of direct sunlight for periods so some moisture is retained in the soil, and to work with the micro-climate that exists.

Of course you can always contact us and we’d be happy to help with your project 🙂

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