How Do I Grow a Garden During a Drought?

July 13, 2021

If you love gardening, the thought of losing all your hard-fought work in your planter boxes out back may be heart-wrenching. And while droughts are certainly an intimidating foe, there are definitely ways to combat their effects. As you read these different points, think about the specific situation you face with your garden in order to identify ideas to implement.


Choose Your Plants Wisely

Choosing the right plants is perhaps the best place to start when it comes to droughts. No matter what you do, there are some plants that just won’t be able to grow in direct scorching sunlight so trying to make it work will be an uphill battle. Instead, if there are some plants that aren’t as naturally prone to desert or drought survival as others, make sure that you balance out the effort those plants will require by also getting plants that thrive in a dry climate.


This will take some of the burden off you and help you be able to channel your effort to ensure that all your plants grow well, especially the ones that demand a little more of your time.


Use Compost

Using compost will go a long way in helping you make your soil retain water. Compost is basically made up of decomposing natural or organic materials including decomposing plants, manure, and other natural materials that have been broken down. You can make your own compost by saving food scraps from your meals and then mixing them into your soil. You can also purchase it at the store as well.


Compost increases the amount of water that your soil is able to hold meaning that it will stay in your soil giving your plants more nourishment than otherwise. It also helps you not need as much fertilizer or pest control, resulting in healthier plants.


Make Every Drop Count

Truly, the key to having success in your garden during a drought is finding ways to make the water you are able to give your plants last longer. One step that might help your water last a bit longer is to potentially shade some of your plants. If the sun is too hot, being in a slightly shade environment might help the plants get enough light while preventing water from evaporating out of the soil.


You should also consider using mulch. Mulch and compost can be easily mixed up—compost is usually mixed into the soil while mulch is just laid on top. And while compost is always made of organic materials, mulch can be made of both. Mulch helps seal in moisture while also preventing weed growth. Mulch will increase water retention in the soil, so it does double duty for you.

Water Slowly

One of the best ways to ensure that you aren’t wasting any water in the process of watering your plants is to make sure you water your plants slowly and directly at the dirt level. Watering the dirt directly helps ensure that the water gets sucked up into the roots instead of drying out on a leaf.


Watering your plants slowly may feel a bit arduous, but it will make a big difference in your plants’ health overall. Watering slowly ensures that the water won’t simply seep through the soil and out the bottom of the pot. If watering your plants individually and slowly seems like quite the unpleasant chore to you or if you simply don’t have time to water each of your plants slowly, you might consider a drip system.


Basically, this means either setting up a system of different jugs of water to constantly drip drops of water over the soil or installing a system that you can buy to drip water over the plants.  


Stop Fertilizing

Fertilizing is usually a good practice that helps your plants grow quicker and fuller. But because fertilizer is intended to boost plant growth, it also necessarily means that those plants will require more water and nourishment. The combination of this growth booster and limited nutrients can result in your plants drying up and dying prematurely.


Dead-head Flowers

Dead-heading flowers has many benefits. First off, dead-heading usually allows you to have more flowers grow on your plants than would otherwise. After the initial bloom is done, the petal-less head is left and begins to harden if not cut. If the dead head is cut, the plant is stimulated to grow another flower head. In some cases, dead-heading can actually help your plants grow more substantial blooms than they would otherwise.


In addition to providing more lovely and full flowers in your garden, dead-heading also helps your plant not dry up as quickly and not exert its limited energy into the hardened seed pods that develop once a bloom is spent.


Basically, once a bloom is spent and the petal-less head remains, the plant forms that head into a hard seed pod. This takes more energy than simply growing another bloom, so dead-heading can help you preserve some of that energy that comes from the plant’s water stores.



Weeding is another hugely important step to make sure that your plants have a fighting chance against extreme heat. When you let weeds grow unruly in your garden, they compete for resources like good soil and water with your plants. If you are able to eliminate these weeds, your plants will be the ones who absorb all the nutrients in the soil.


Approaching weeding can vary based on the person and the weeds. Do your research about the particular weeds that are prone to develop in your garden to decide if it’s better to spray the weeds, pull them by hand, or plant other plants that drive those weeds out.


Being a gardener requires a lot of personal growth in addition to the growth you prompt in your plants. While it’s possible that despite your best efforts, you still see some negative garden results from the drought, don’t give up. Do your best to research more about your particular area’s conditions to have a better grasp on what to do next time.

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