Tips on how to drought-proof your garden
With these fantastic schemes, your garden will look healthy and lush all summer - it can be so easy to do
Keeping your garden green and gorgeous all summer can be tricky but, if you choose your plants carefully, you won't have to worry about them drooping when the weather's hot. Follow our four top tips for a sumptuous summer garden:
Choose sun worshippers
One drought-beating strategy is to use plenty of plants that come from hot, Mediterranean climates. These have adapted to conditions with little water and can create a dramatic look.
Succulents such as Agaves, echeverias and aeoniums.
Plants that have hairy or silvery grey leaves, such as stachys (lamb's ears), Russian sage, helichrysum.
Spiky-leaved plants such as eryngiums or cardoons
Hardy Mediterraneans such as purple allium , French or Spanish lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage .
Plant agaves in containers as they need to be brought inside during the winter.
Bold globes of Allium giganteum look great among silky grasses.
Create a shady spot
As well as providing shelter from the sun, shade forms as microclimate that traps moisture, meaning there's less watering for you to do. Apart from the trees, the best way to create shade is by adding structures such as pergolas, arbours and bowers. Train climbing plants over the framework to make a natural canopy, and choose shade-loving ones to grow underneath.
An ornamental or fruiting grape vine to cover a pergola.
Ornamental hops (try golden Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ or the fast-growing Chilean glory vine, both of which look fantastic scrambling over an arbour.
Hellebores, hostas, ferns, and foxgloves - these are all plants that will flourish in the shady areas beneath structures and trees.
A vine with edible grapes, such as ‘Concord', gives shade and fruit.
Shade-loving Helleborus orientalis produces pretty flowers in early spring.
Cultivate ground cover
Plants that grow to form a carpet need little rain as they cover the surface of the soil and so hold in moisture. For the best drought-proofing, aim not to leave any bare earth showing.
Plants with small leaves and woody stems that creep along the ground, such as flowering thyme and small-leaved hebes.
Anything that comes from a part of the world with low rainfall, such as the Mediterranean countries. Cotton lavender (santolina) and dwarf lavenders are good examples.
Small annual and perrenial grasses such as blue fescue.
Sedums, sempivivums and saxifrages.
In very dry conditions, blue fescue grass looks like sleek burnished metal.
Sedum ‘Carl’ has huge flower heads that will attract butterflies.
Add drama with showy survivors
If you want a lush-looking tropical-style garden, these are the plants that will look the part but can survive on very little water. It's all about scale - choose plants with big leaves or flowers.
Large, spiky plants such as phormiums and cordylines.
Big and bushy varieties such as euphorbias, which will survive even in gravel, and acanthus.
Honey bush (Melianthus major) and smoke bush (Cotinus coggyria), which have the big, lush leaves we associate with tropical plants.
Begonia rex for its dramatic colours and foliage.
Yuccas, which have a dramatic shape and a convincing ‘jungle’ feel.
Acanthus is a tough plant with huge leaves and strange spiky flowers.
Euphoria characias has enormous green flower spikes in early summer.
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