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Landscaping During Drought

These trees, shrubs and flowers can tolerate drought.

August 2012

Ronald C. Smith, Horticulturist

The potential for drought should give North Dakota homeowners reason to stop and think about their present landscape and what the costs of maintaining that landscape are in terms of water requirements.

If a silver maple should succumb to the weather extremes, a more drought-tolerant species should be planted in its place. For example, adapted cultivars of hackberry, boxelder, white poplar and honeylocust are some of the more drought-hardy trees to consider.

In the shrub category, consider using natives such as something from the yucca species because they will thrive no matter how dry it gets. The juniper family will cover the rest of the woody plant needs quite effectively.

To add some color, portulaca is an annual ground cover which re-seeds each year. Zinnias are a stubborn annual that can tough out the hot, dry summers once established, and in the herbaceous perennial group, artemisia, liatris, lupinus, sedum and coreopsis will give some height and variation in color and season of bloom.

It is not necessary to wait until next spring to begin this renovation. Many nurseries carry containerized stock and offer bargain prices at other times of the year. After the initial rooting-in period, most of these plants can get along with whatever precipitation nature provides. Deciduous trees should probably not be planted beyond the latter part of September, while evergreens can be planted until the soil freezes, as long as they can be adequately watered in.

To keep landscaping from becoming a hodgepodge collection of plants, make a planting plan. Visit the local nurseries and see what is available and how it would be used in redeveloping the landscape.

Planting from mid-June until mid-to-late September will allow plants to become established and enhance the home setting the following year.

Additional Reading

H-957 Xeriscape Plant Selections and Ideas

H-958 Landscape Ideas for North Dakota Homeowners

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