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In today's water restrictive world, the choices we make in our gardens are vitally important. Who wants to spend all that time planting, pruning, watering and nurturing plants when they will just perish with the increasing drought as the summer moves forward? While most ornamental grasses and some select perennials are drought-resistant, they must be watered regularly until they have established themselves in a landscape. Once established however, these choices tend to require less water and with the high value on water conservation, that is important!
Using recycled water (collected rain water, grey water etc) is smart, but preparing the ground prior to planting is also important for creating a garden that will thrive in the summer drought conditions that are predicted to continue in the coming years.
General Planting Tips for Water Smart Ornamental Grasses and Perennials
Adding moisture retaining materials to the soil prior to planting helps ensure the best results. Including a quality compost at this stage is a great way to decrease the watering needs and is a sustainable method of doing so. Peats, hydrogels and cocoa fibre can also be incorporated depending on the composition of the soil. You don't want the roots to rot, nor do you want the water to run right through the soil bed!
Know the growing requirements of the plant choices you make, a smart gardener chooses the right plant for the right location!
For best results, group plants not only by their exposure needs, i.e. sun/shade, but within those requirements plant in groups that have similar watering needs. If you have thirsty plants, try to design your garden so they are together making their care that much easier.
Ornamental grasses should not be planted too deeply. They should be planted to the same soil level as they have in their containers. If mulch is used, it should not choke the crown.
Establishing a New Plant
For best results and less work, plant in the spring while there is adequate natural moisture. You will find they establish quicker and will need very little care.
If you are planting during the heat of the summer, plant in the late evening to give the plant time to 'nestle in' before the heat of the day arrives. If necessary, cover the bed with a light ground cloth to protect it from the sun's burning rays until it can establish itself.
Remembering that it is easier to kill a plant by over-watering it than it is by under-watering; a good rule is to water deeply, but less often. The plant will benefit the most by a deep watering done in the morning a couple times a week until it is well-established.