Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
April, 2006
Regional Report

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Believe it or not, most bulbs are incredibly drought-tolerant, including these crocuses.

Drought-Proofing a Garden

It's still early in the season, the time when all our thoughts turn to the magnificent new plants we will add to our landscapes and gardens this year. But if the last few summers are any indication of what we might encounter this summer, our thoughts should be turning to how we can drought-proof our landscapes.

Xeriscaping is a type of landscape design that uses drought-tolerant plants. It may sound exotic, but in reality it is simply a matter of familiarizing ourselves with plants that withstand dry conditions, grouping plants to make the best use of water, and employing other techniques to help conserve what water we do have.

Plants that do well in drought conditions are good choices for any landscape since they tend to take less maintenance and care to keep them looking good. Combine these ecological plant choices with careful mulching, "zoning" plants into groupings where they have similar water requirements, and practicing good culture to encourage plants to root deeply so they can make the best use of water. This approach will help create a landscape that can withstand the ravages of drought, and carry itself through the season with grace and beauty, not to mention sound ecological stewardship.

Here are some of my top choices for hot, dry sites to get you started in selecting your landscape plants. These plants are very general choices for the Midwest, and when making selections for your garden, look to the natives of your area because they are almost always reliable. And, remember, this is only a smattering of the possibilities out there!

Trees: Lacebark elm, gingko, Turkish hazelnut, hackberry, bur oak, green ash, scoots pine, Amur maackia, Colorado spruce, ponderosa pine, hawthorn, crab apple, Amur maple, eleagnus, honeylocust, Kentucky coffeetree

Shrubs: Spirea, rugosa rose, Indian currant coralberry, rose, Siberian peashrub, juniper, diervilla, American plum, potentilla, sumac, alpine currant, buffaloberry

Perennials and Vines: Sedum, yarrow, rudbeckia, coreopsis, daylily, artemisia, ornamental grass, compass plant, prairie dock, false indigo, joe-pye-weed, rose mallow, amsonia, butterfly weed, centaurea, cerastium, purple coneflower, baby's breath, evening primrose, Russian sage, lamb's ears, catmint, monarda, salvia , heliopsis, liatris, obedient plant, gaillardia, aster

Turfgrass: Tall fescue, hard fescue

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