Landscaping During Times of Drought

Landscaping in an arid climate may seem to many like an impracticable proposition. After all, there are few plants that can thrive without water. However, it seems especially discouraging during times of drought, as one would expect that at sometime the climate should not be so dry.

There is no reason to despair, however. While there are certainly risks associated with landscaping in the dry climate produced by drought, it by no means indicates that your plants and your yard will suffer by doing so. By taking a few simple things into account, you can landscape for a dry climate, and when the drought is over enjoy the fruits of your labor so much more.

Why Plant at All

There are actually excellent reasons to plant in a dry climate during times of drought, and to plant in semi-arid regions where water restrictions may be a regular part of life. The reasons are thus: plants provide shade and can increase a homes energy efficiency; they provide emotional and mental relief, as they are naturally pleasing; it is important to have diverse species in landscapes; and replacement trees can decrease plant life loss due to injury, age, or disease. Additionally, trees and shrubs contribute greatly to soil stability, preventing erosion.

Here are some important things to keep in mind if landscaping during times when the climate is drier:

Space available for landscaping

This is a very important consideration for any landscape design and especially for those designs during times of drought. There should be adequate rooting area as well as plenty of airspace. Large-growing trees should be planted well away from gardens, driveways, other trees, buildings, or too near a property line. This is important because most of a tree's biomass is actually located under ground. You need to make sure there is enough space on your property to ensure that your plants will be able to grow properly.

Moisture concerns

Of course, in a dry climate or during times of drought, moisture needs are of great concern. There are trees that require a great deal of moisture (sometimes 30" of rain), and so you should be wary to plant these in semi-arid regions or during droughts. Find trees that do not require much water to thrive, or plant trees and shrubs that may need a little more water on lower portions of your property, where they may enjoy the benefits of storm run-off.


Plant a selection of trees and shrubs that will not grow so large. There are plenty of deciduous and evergreen trees that do not grow to be very big. Buy deciduous trees with 2 inches or less caliper, and make sure that your evergreens will reach no more than 6 feet in height. This will ensure that you have a good selection of plants that do not have strenuous water requirements.

Placement on property

It has already been noted that it might be better for some trees to be located on lower ground. There are other placement requirements to take into account when planning landscaping for dry or drought-affected climates. Make sure that you know the light requirements of the plants you buy. The south and west directions are usually drier and receive more sunlight than the north and east portions of a house.

Consequently, if your plants need little more moisture, it is best to have them on the east and north sides of the landscape. The southern and western areas of your property can be landscaped with plants requiring less moisture and which might need more sunlight. Choosing a variety of plants that require a variety of conditions can help bring diversity to your landscape.

Landscaping adds great beauty to our home environs. It is very rewarding to have a beautiful prospect that can be seen on approaching one's house (or looking out the window, for that matter). By using a little common sense, and by thinking carefully about what plants, trees, and shrubs would most likely suit your property, it is possible to lay out a plan for landscaping that will allow you to make use even of a dry climate or one that is drought-induced. And, when you choose wisely which plants to use in your landscape designs, you end up saving money, time, and frustration.

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