What Is A Dry Garden And Is It Worth Considering For Your Yard?

Dry doesn’t mean dull.

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Drought-tolerant garden design

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There’s a lot to consider when it comes to determining the right plan for your yard. It will be dependent on your location and climate, to be sure, but could also hinge on your budget, skill level, and how much time you have on your hands. That being said, those who live in drought-prone areas might think their landscaping decisions hinge less on what plants to use and more on whether or not to just hardscape and call it a day. But there are an array of drought-tolerant plants that can help create a lush landscape, even if rainfall and irrigation both come at a premium. One option is the dry garden. 

What Is a Dry Garden?

A dry garden is landscaping that takes a water-conserving approach. These plants will not require supplemental watering as they are adapted to survive in dry environments. Oftentimes the plants that are best suited for an area that sees regular drought-filled seasons, are native varieties—think wildflowers, sedum, and yucca. You can also select plants that, while not native, hail from a region with similar conditions. In the South, that might mean drought-tolerant varieties like salvia, lavender, and catmint.

Is a Dry Garden Right for You and Your Yard?

It’s important to know that the entire garden doesn’t have to be “dry” for a xeriscape-friendly (landscape that requires little to no supplemental water outside of natural precipitation) approach. Just as you might have plants within your yard that take full sun, others that require shade, and some that straddle the two, so too can your yard provide pockets of low-maintenance, low-water landscaping. 

When selecting any plants for your yard, it’s important to know your USDA Zone and what grows best in your area. Consider plants that are solidly within your zone, and you’ll have a greater chance of happy, thriving plants. 

Tips for Making a Dry Garden

You don’t need to go big in order to reap the benefits of a dry garden. Reducing your water needs within your yard makes a difference—even if you can’t (or don’t want to) overhaul for a total xeriscape yard. Start small and see what works for both your aesthetic and yard.

Group Plants Appropriately

When combining drought-friendly elements with plants that require supplemental irrigation, group plants with similar needs together so you can make your water usage more efficient. Drought-tolerant plants are pros at pulling water from other plants so they will likely win the water war when planted near shrubs, flowers, and trees that have greater need of precipitation. 

Keep Landscaping in Mind

To keep your garden feeling full and lush, consider texture, height, fullness, and more when planning out your dry garden. A dry garden shouldn’t be boring. With drought-tolerant plants that bring beautiful structure, interest, and fragrance to your outdoor space, the hardest part will be narrowing down the options.  

The Best Plants for a Dry Garden

The best plants for a dry garden are going to be drought-tolerant and require no supplemental watering outside of any rainfall. Plants that are native to your area and can handle frequent drought periods are natural choices, but look for plants native to other drought-tolerant areas as well. Though options run the gamut, some plants that work in Southern gardens include:

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