DENVER, Colorado — It's been a trying spring. Lack of moisture and drying winds have made life difficult for gardeners.
I haven't watered my lawn, what's left it. I used to have a whole yard of nothing but lawn. as soon as we moved into our house, I started to replace most of it with perennial borders. There's not a stitch of grass in my front garden. Lawns are water guzzlers. Many perennials and shrubs can tolerate drought better than turf. And, in time, they'll sort themselves out with only the toughest remaining.
Even during this dry, windy spring, early blooming shade plants such as bluebells, bishop's hat, Soloman's seal, brunnera and lamium are putting on quite a sow without supplemental moisture.
No one wants to deprive anyone of a lawn for kids, pets and family gatherings. But you can reduce turf areas and replace them with less thirsty plants. Nature already invented a system to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. And it's not bark mulch. Groundcovers such as thyme, vinca, lily-of-the-valley, ivy, creeping phlox and many more really persist once established.
To avoid wasting water, use a moisture meter. I don't have a sprinkler system (nor do I want one) and I water only when the plants tell me to. Bark mulch and gravel--especially laid over landscape fabric--are never the answer to conserving water.
Group plants by moisture needs, both in the ground and it pots. Big containers hold moisture better; glazed ceramic or plastic pots are better at this than terra cotta pots. Know your microclimates to better position them. You can create an oasis without sacrificing color and fragrance.
More Proctor's Garden:
- Here's how to sow seeds for spring
- Proctor's Garden: Put manure to good use
- What you can plant safely now
- Despite the wind, it's time to plant and fertilize
- The quick and simple way to make your own geraniums
- Start your garden prep now with seed catalogs
- Indoor and outdoor plants
- How to grow your own salad
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