Steele: Drought climate gardening tips

Find out how the Seven Principles of Xeriscape can help you to garden successfully in the climate extremes

Almost any landscape style can be successfully designed using xeriscape principles.

After the hot, dry spring and this summer’s drought, are you thinking of making some changes to reduce the water needs in your landscape?

Please join me for a free mini-class about xeriscape gardening on Monday, July 27, 7 p.m.,  at the unH2O Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, 4075 Gordon Dr. in front of the H2O Aquatic Centre.

This is an opportunity to find out how the Seven Principles of Xeriscape can help you to garden successfully in the climate extremes that are becoming the norm.

I will touch on each of those principles—planning and design, soil preparation, practical turf areas, efficient irrigation, appropriate plant selection, mulching and timely maintenance.

A common question these days is, “How do I get rid of lawn?” I’ll discuss several options.

Using plants in the garden, I’ll show various ways plants adapt to drought. This will help when researching what to plant that will thrive in dry heat.

One of the best research tools is the extensive plant database at okanaganxeriscape.org. It has 23 search categories and over 350 water-wise plants suited to the Okanagan. Most plant profiles include photos.

Now is a very good time to assess your landscape. Make a note of the plants that do well in the hot and dry conditions and ones that do poorly that you may want to replace.

When it’s too hot to be gardening, you can sit in the shade to begin the planning process for the changes you want to make.

Consider making some changes this fall.

Fall is an excellent time to plant in the Okanagan.

The air is cool and the soil is warm, creating ideal conditions for a plant to begin establishing a good root system before next summer’s drought.

The plant grows until the ground freezes and begins again as soon as the ground thaws.

It will go into next summer with a much bigger root system than if it were planted next spring, thus making it be better prepared for drought conditions.

Before planting, soak the hole twice, allowing water to drain. Immerse the root ball in a bucket of water until it is fully saturated. Break up the roots so they will grow out into surrounding soil.

After planting, soak again, then spread a layer of mulch around the plant.

Following these instructions will get plants off to a good start at any time but are essential to follow with late season planting.

Fall is an excellent time to create a lasagne garden as there are lots of compost materials, such as leaves and plant clippings available.

I’ll explain this method at my seminar for creating a raised garden for vegetables or flowers. It produces exceptional soil.

You can learn more about xeriscape at my two night class ‘Introduction to Xeriscape’ opn Wednesday, Sept. 16 and  23 or Thursday, Oct. 1 and 8. Details and registration information are on the OXA website.

Gwen Steele is executive director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association.