Tips for Caring for Your Plants in a Dry Environment

5 min read|Last updated at: November 16, 2022

If you live in a hot, dry climate, you may be concerned about your plants wilting or turning brown. Gardeners growing crops in perpetually arid regions face a variety of challenges. Drought, dust storms, extended heat waves and other severe weather phenomena all take a toll on the environment, as well as your garden, resulting in stunted or burnt crops, a reduced yield, and a shortage of water. It may come as a shock that a third of America faces moderate levels of drought during the summer.

Yet, that is no reason to give up growing an edible garden. There are many full-sun and drought tolerate varieties you can grow that will withstand drought or other severe ecological conditions. Below are several tips that can help you improve your gardening efficiency in areas prone to dry conditions. 

Tips for Caring for your Plants in a Dry Environment | Vego Garden

Grow Food in Raised Garden Beds      

Many gardeners can attest to the painful experience of weeding when the sun is relentlessly beating down on their backs. With raised garden beds, you do not need to bend down or weed as much. Vego Garden has a collection of metal raised garden beds with various shapes and heights, including a 32" series, to accommodate gardeners of all skill levels. Raised garden beds allow for a number of benefits, such as improved drainage, control over soil quality, and less bending over, which makes it a salient alternative to planting in garden beds on the ground. While there are a few situations to watch out for, namely faster evaporation rates, raised garden beds present more advantages than disadvantages, and are worth the investment. 

17" Tall 9 In 1 Modular Metal Raised Garden Bed Kit

$249.95 $199.95

The classic of the classics, this is the first raised garden bed kit we launched. The 3.5' x 6.5' and 2' x 8' configurations are among the most iconic designs for anyone who is new to garden beds. The height is also great for easy, quick access when gardening and assists in keeping slugs and pests at a minimum too. Great for growing herbs, succulents, veggies, or flowers.…

 

Choose Native Plants     

Before you begin, it is a good idea to know your growing zone, which will help you understand the growing trends for your region and the types of plants that are best suited to local growing conditions. Recently, the concept of themed gardens has become popular, with examples including goth gardens, cottage gardens, and native gardens. Native gardens, which consist of plants endemic to an area, have gained traction amongst gardeners seeking a low-maintenance and sustainable landscape. They are suitable for beginners because they require minimal amounts of water or fertilizer. Though some believe that native gardens are not attractive, that is not the case. Many native plants including bee balm, coneflower, and goldenrod offer colorful blooms that bring a rustic charm to your garden and also help attract butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. 

Choose Drought Tolerant Plants   

For those living in dry areas, it is a good idea to choose plants with low water requirements and avoid those that require constant watering. Look for drought tolerant plants, which are often native to the region and compatible with the environment. Common drought tolerant plants include lavender, yarrow, echinacea, creeping phlox, and coneflower. Dedicate more space to perennial varieties that can tolerate prolonged periods of dry weather, such as garlic, oregano, and thyme.

Tips for Caring for your Plants in a Dry Environment | Vego Garden

Create Beneficial Microclimates    

Even though you might not realize it, different sections of the garden can contain a myriad of climates depending on your location, including vastly fluctuating temperatures. Create shade microclimates to protect your plants and minimize water loss by harsh environmental conditions. Use cover systems, a tree canopy, or a shade trellis to create shaded areas and group plants together for increased humidity. 

Reduce Lawn Coverage      

Although the idea of a verdant green lawn can be appealing, lawns absorb precious amounts of water. Many gardeners do not realize that lawns are wasteful and often overwatered, with 500 sq ft of lawn taking up to 67,500 gallons of water annually. Consider replacing sections with a wildflower meadow, suitable ground covers, or mulch. During the summer, refrain from constantly mowing or watering your lawn, even if the grass turns brown. To reduce water loss, keep the grass taller and remove less than a third of a leaf blade. 

Use a Drip Irrigation System       

Ideal for those living in a water-conscious area or experiencing drought, a drip irrigation system is more cost effective than sprinklers, which wastes water and can cause fungal diseases. Compared to conventional watering systems, it can reduce water usage by 30 – 50%. For those that are unfamiliar, drip irrigation utilizes micro irrigation tubing known as emitters that deliver water at the root level at regular intervals.  If you only have a few garden beds or find a drip irrigation system too expensive, opt for watering cans or a soaker hose.

Tips for Caring for your Plants in a Dry Environment | Vego Garden

Consistently Add Compost 

Compost is a beneficial soil amendment that can help improve your garden’s drought tolerance by increasing the water retention capacity of dry soils. It also contains a medley of nutrients and organic matter that reduces soil compaction and enhances structure. Although there are many fertilizer options available, organic compost is recommended. Make your own compost by recycling food scraps using Vego Garden’s Worm Composter, an efficient and sustainable method that avoids the hassle and smell of traditional compost systems. 

Vego In-Ground Worm Composter

$79.95 $59.95

The Vego Garden In-Ground Worm Composter makes sustainable and efficient gardening a breeze by turning your organic waste into rich, nutrient-dense garden bed material. Simply dig a hole in the ground of your Vego Garden, bury the Worm Composting Bin, fill with organic waste and worms, and let nature do the work. It's that simple!…

Remember to Mulch    

Often thought of as simply decoration to improve the visual appearance of a yard, many gardeners underestimate the benefits of mulch. One of the top ways to conserve water in a dry climate is to apply two to four inches of mulch around plants when the soil is wet. Mulch also suppresses weeds and improves soil drainage and structure. 

Tips for Caring for your Plants in a Dry Environment | Vego Garden

Reduce the Size of your Garden      

The concept of less is more is very applicable to gardeners living in dry cities. As well as shrinking the size of your lawn, strive to grow only what you need or truly want. Instead of growing many iterations of the same plant, grow only one or two. Thin out unhealthy, low-value plants that siphon a large portion of resources and focus on those that offer valuable benefits. Avoid over planting by researching the yield an average plant produces and calculate the amount you need. If you are planning to grow fruit trees, seek dwarf or compact varieties, which will be more manageable.

Hold off Fertilizing or Pruning   

Minimize fertilizing or pruning during drought or dry, hot conditions to prevent stress. Without adequate water, the salts in fertilizer can build up and lead to burned roots or foliage. The optimal time to fertilize is after a rain, which will allow fertilizer to seep into the soil. If a plant is experiencing nutrient deficiencies, apply high-quality organic fertilizers or liquid fertilizers. If drought stress is observed, supply limited water using drip irrigation or a soaker hose. 

With the exception of dead limbs or branches, do not prune trees or shrubs. Pruning excessively during times of hot temperatures can open wounds that exacerbate stress and strip them of their water reserves. This can also leave them susceptible to pests and disease. Instead, focus on delivering supplemental water to the root level.