garden home &
By Kate Parham
YOU FOUND THE perfect house, you’ve
decorated it to a T and then—then you look
at the yard. It’s dying. It hasn’t rained in weeks
and you can’t afford to keep the sprinklers on
all day. What now? Fortunately, there are
options, from specially developed lawn seed
to drought-tolerant plants, that are perfect for
those who live in dry, arid areas but still want
a beautiful, green yard.
What does “drought-tolerant” mean?
Simply put, grasses and plants that are
drought-tolerant, also referred to as drought-
resistant or water-wise, “can endure condi-
terns everywhere are becoming unpredictable
and erratic with global climate change,” says
Ogden. “Potable water is in short supply, even
in areas with abundant rainfall; therefore,
minimizing additional landscape irrigation
makes sense [in multiple places].”
While Miracle-Gro provides several
drought-tolerant products, including water-
soluble lawn fertilizer and drought-tolerant
grass seed, there are also a number of drought-
tolerant plants. “In our book, we feature 200
varieties with plant choices adapted to all cli-
mate regions, and also give mention to an
additional 400 related plants,” says Ogden,
Creating a drought-resistant paradise
tions in which there is no rainfall over a
protracted period of time,” says Holly Plotner,
a Travis County, Texas, Master Gardener.
In more specific terms, it refers to plants
that “will remain healthy and attractive with
just 1 inch of water every two weeks during
the active growing season,” says Scott Ogden,
principal at Plant Driven Design (
drivendesign.com) and co-author (with his
wife, Lauren Springer Ogden) of the book
Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens
(Timber Press, 2011).
What does this mean for you? It means
that you can have a healthy, sustainable garden
that will thrive with less work and water, even
if you don’t live in a plant-friendly climate.
who notes these plants include everything
from trees and shrubs to perennials, grasses,
succulents, bulbs and vines.
local resources, such as the county extension
office or landscape professionals. “In Austin,
[Texas], the city sponsors the Grow Green
program, which has a very informative website and publishes free materials on all facets
of landscape design, installation, maintenance and problem solving,” says Plotner,
who notes other cities have similar programs.
If you want a drought-resistant lawn,
Kiekenapp has a plan, though it varies based
on whether you’re planting a new lawn or
overseeding an existing lawn. If your lawn is
new, follow these easy steps:
1. Prepare the ground with a roto tiller,
loosening soil and adding topsoil if the
ground is very rocky.
2. Plant drought-tolerant seeds and keep
them moist until germination with a sprinkler
system or a thin layer of mulch or organic material. This usually takes about 10 to 14 days.
3. After germination, the grass will sprout.
Keep it watered with a regular schedule, and
in six to eight weeks you can mow for the
Follow a similar program with an existing
lawn. Simply mow the lawn short, about half
an inch high. Apply drought-tolerant grass
seeds, taking care to keep them moist through
germination. Mow as needed. Voila! A healthy,
thriving lawn. C
Kate Parham (
www.kateparham.com) is a
Washington, D.C.–based freelance writer.
Getting started Start by making a list of drought-resistant plants adapted to your climate that appeal to you, suggests Ogden. “Then figure out where these best fit on your site and how they can be placed attractively in the garden.” It’s impor- tant to consider the plants’ unique attributes o that you can create attractive combinations to extend interest through the season. If you have questions, Plotner suggests contacting
Do you have the right climate?
“We have created three different types of
drought-tolerant seed based on the different
climates found in the U.S.,” explains Herb
Kiekenapp, national account manager at The
Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. Kiekenapp says
Scotts broke down the United States horizontally into three separate climates—top, middle and bottom third—with corresponding
products for each (see “The Costco Connection” at right).
All of these products have a water-absor-bent coating, a fertilizer and a fungicide to
help them thrive in drought conditions.
However, the middle third of this
country is not necessarily the only
region that requires drought-tolerant
gardening. “Most climates experience
drought at some point, and weather pat-
The Costco Connection
This spring, Costco will be carrying Scotts
Water Smart Plus grass seed—Sun & Shade
Mix, Tall Fescue Mix and Bermuda grass—
for each of the three appropriate climates.
Costco also carries composters, as compost
mulch helps with water retention as well
as feeding soil.
SLAVOLJUB PANTELIC/ SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
MARCH 2013 ;e Costco Connection 51 MARCH 2013 ;e Costco Connection 51