You’ve heard the old saying about Utah, “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes. It will change.” The variety of weather conditions throughout the state is one of the things that makes Utah an exciting place to live. It also means that gardens have to be planned more strategically so it will thrive. Here are a few things to consider when planting a garden in southern Utah.
First, the Oasis Strategy.
One of the first principles of gardening in a mostly dry, warm climate is the Oasis Strategy. The Oasis Strategy places plants that require more water closest to the living space (Or another space with a water source) as well as keeping water conserving plants further from the house. For most homeowners, this means choosing plants with high drought tolerance, smaller lawns and substituting hardscape in place of some planted areas.
Next up, Plant Placement.
Grouping plants by water consumption is a frequently used strategy for dry-climate gardening. For example when planting a vegetable garden, placing shallow-rooted vegetables that require frequent watering, such as lettuces, close together. The same goes for deep-rooted vegetables such as tomatoes and squash which benefit from deeper watering. If you are on water restrictions, plants like thirsty corn might be replaced with more heat-tolerant plants such as amaranth, quinoa or black-eyed peas. If you would like to grow plants that require lots of water or “thirsty” plants, it is best to place them in containers rather than large garden beds as it will help keep in the moisture.
Keep color in mind.
Generally, when you think of a thriving landscape you often think of, lush green grass and tall leafy green trees with well-shaped shrubs and blooming flowers. That may not be realistic in dry climates. Instead, focus on all the new and exciting color combinations that come with water conserving plants. California Lilac, Lavender, Perovskia (Russian Sage) and Asclepias (Butterfly weed) are all colorful, water-conserving plants that would be a great addition to any garden.
Everyone wants to conserve water.
Dry-climates bring a whole slew of new issues to the table. However, there are so many new resources to help gardeners learn how to adapt to the dry climate. You can visit local nurseries and catalogs are great resources. Even some local municipal websites are adding plant choices to their menu. For example, Saint George City offers “Lawn Water Audits” to their citizens to help put together a watering plan.
Strategies for Conserving and retaining water.
There are lots of resources for water conservation and retention strategies for your garden. Some simple actions that will help consist of providing water through a drip irrigation system and fitting it with sensors that will shut off water flow if it detects rainfall. You can create a rock garden on a slope that collects runoff and channels it into your garden. A lot of these things you can do on your own and are cost effective.
With all the beautiful plants and informative resources available to homeowners, why should we settle for anything but a beautiful lush and water conscious yard