How to plan a drought-tolerant garden

Creating a drought-tolerant garden requires careful planning and smart choices. Here are some tips to help you adapt to changing climates:

alpine plant

Choose wisely:

Consider the specific needs of different areas in your garden. Opt for plants that are already drought-tolerant, like lavender, Agastache, and Salvia.

  • Mediterranean plants can handle hot, dry summers, but they can struggle with prolonged cold or wet conditions.
  • Alpine plants, on the other hand, can withstand sub-zero temperatures and constant sunshine.
  • Remember the mantra “right plant, right place.”

Plant with care:

Select smaller plants and allow them time to adapt to your garden’s conditions.

  • Before planting, soak new pots in water until no air bubbles rise, then thoroughly water them.
  • Avoid excessive fertilisation and feeding, as lush growth can be more vulnerable to extreme weather.
  • Apply a mulch around plants, keeping it away from the stem, to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Rethink your layout:

Evaluate how you use your outdoor space and consider rearranging it to benefit both you and your plants.

  • For example, if you have a shaded patch of lawn that struggles to thrive, consider moving shade-tolerant plants there instead.
  • Additionally, explore alternatives to lawns, such as gravel gardens or sedum carpets, depending on your needs and preferences.
  • All gardens have microclimates within them, as different areas receive varying levels of shade, rainfall, and wind shelter. Use them to your advantage.

Cultivate your soil:

  • Improve soil structure and water retention by incorporating organic matter.
  • Use homemade compost, mushroom compost, well-rotted manure, shredded bark, or leaf mould to enrich your soil.

Weed strategically:

There’s a change of view on weeds happening, with some gardeners considering them as plants in the wrong place, Chelsea flower show was awash with ‘weeds’ this year.

  • Consider reclassifying some plants as wildflowers, especially if they add colour and attract beneficial insects.
  • Remove plants, whether weeds or misplaced, that compete with your desired plants for moisture and nutrients.

Managing pots:

While planting directly into the soil is preferable for drought-tolerant gardening, well-placed pots can still have a role.

  • Opt for less, but larger pots to reduce drying out.
  • Choose non-porous materials like glazed or metal pots to minimize evaporation. loss.
  • Ensure pots have drainage holes, and place a saucer or dish with a layer of gravel at the bottom to retain some water. Use a compost mix rich in organic matter to retain moisture.

For guidance on caring for an existing garden during dry spells, please find another useful article here.

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N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

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G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

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We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

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We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

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“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”