The Q&A Archives: Little Water

Question: In the front of my house there is a overhang which blocks any direct water. There is sun for approximately 6 hours every day. What perennials do you recommend that need little water? I am not a conscientious gardener, so I need plants that don't require regular watering.

Answer: In a location such as that, it is important to maintain a regular watering regime no matter what you have planted, because the combination of overhang and reflected heat will be extremely stressful, even if there is shade for part of the day. This is especially important while the plants are becoming established. During this phase the plants may need to be watered twice a week.

Once the plants are established, you may water less often. When you water, water slowly for a longer period of time to ensure that the water penetrates deep into the soil. (Dig down a bit a few hours after watering to see how deep the moisture has gone.) By doing it this way, you only need to water when the top inch or so of soil has dried.

In preparing the soil prior to planting, make sure to include copious amounts of organic matter and prepare the soil as deeply as possible. This will encourage the plants to root deeper into the soil where it stays moister longer.

After planting, maintain a layer of organic mulch several inches deep year round. This will help maintain soil moisture and cut down significantly on weeds. It will also feed the soil and improve its structure over time.

Some relatively drought tolerant plants that might grow there could include purple coneflower, perennial geraniums, nepeta, coral bells (heuchera), and an assortment of sedums.

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