Growing Your Own Dry Garden

by Tony Manhart

Tony Manhart

Tony Manhart

Growing garden plants on dry land can be tricky

Limitations of water and the selection of compatible plants are some challenges to begin with, accrued with the maintenance of these plants to survive various conditions in the long term.

That’s why a lot of gardeners, especially new ones, don’t want to work on a dry garden as it takes effort and knowledge to do so, but it’s not impossible. Luckily, we now have guides on how to do this, just like this article.

This article is a great way to begin understanding the effective ways to make use of your dry land to grow your own garden. Go through the content below and your days peering over your fence dreaming of your own field are over.

Improve your soil structure

Drylands are devoid of sufficient moisture to retain the growth of plants. Temperature and precipitation are significant factors in developing a good garden. In order to improve their structure, you can add organic materials and compost to the soil after digging considerable depth. Soil conditioners such as gypsum and fertilizers are also known to enhance the water holding capacity of the soil.

According to Elliot & Smith (1990), organic matter content of land is highly related to the productivity and fertility of the soil. These also play significant roles in maintaining soil aggregation and stability.

As a result, relationships with air and water with soil are improved along with the protection from external factors such as wind and soil erosion.

Compatible Plants

Fortunately, there are various plants that can still grow despite the lack of moisture and nutrients of a land. Bulbs and natives are known to be adaptive to grow in dry situations. Species like allium (ornamental onion), galtonia, coprosma, corokia, astelia, among others, can be selected for this type of land depending on your growing zone.

On the other hand, for dry shade conditions, hippeastrum, hydrangea, vinca, and many others are recommended to be planted. A further list of other plants is made by Palmers to expand your options.

Furthermore, if you have penchant for decoratives and ornamentals, a good number of plants can be selected as well. Silver plants sit well under good sun while sedums are known to grow under hot and dry conditions. Large leaves and blossoming petals are indications of their good growth.

Other selections include grasses in dry conditions, yuccas and agaves in warm areas, euphoria, candicans, berberies, and even lilacs in moisture-deficient lands.

Dryland Maintenance

Continuous supplementation of land with nutrients from sources like fertilizers should be done in the management of dry land. In the modern day, amounts of micronutrients can be integrated through foliar sprays for easier application. Plants should have sufficient nutrients in order to compete with undesirable plants around. Deep banding fertilization close to the plants is a good way to optimize nutrient supplementation.

According to Granatstein (1993) in his overview “Dryland Farming in the Northwestern United States”, drylands are also known to be susceptible to weeds, insect infestation and diseases largely affected by precipitation and sporadic weather patterns.

Constant practices of weeding out are best to practice controlling the nutrient uptake of plants. These can be carried out through tilling and burial with a mold plow method. Herbicides are increasingly employed today for weed control; however, gardeners must also be careful in not harming the plants, at the same time.

On the other hand, regular watering is also important in the maintenance period. Efficient techniques that can be employed include drip systems and in-ground watering schemes to ensure constant supplementation.

These methods are also proven to be labor-extensive and more convenient, especially when handling large gardens and various plants. You can water the plants yourself daily through a hose or a watering jug as well if you want hands-on tasks.


Growing a garden in a dry area is not as difficult as it seems. As every gardener does, you should take proactive strategies to improve your soil characteristics and find the right plants compatible with your soil structure. Lastly, maintenance, through weed and insect control and regular watering, plays important part too.

Follow the tips above and you are guaranteed to have your own dry garden in no time.

Grower Today

Tony Manhart is the founder and editor in chief at Growertoday. Tony’s enthusiasm and rich experience in all things related to growing plants have led him to share his abundant knowledge with gardening aficionados all over the world. When he is not working around his own garden, Tony spends his time writing tips and tricks on a variety of subjects related to plant cultivation and soil maintenance.

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