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A waterless garden?

© Montréal Botanical Garden (Michel Tremblay)
A waterless garden?

The idea may be utopian, but it does raise the issue of careful use of water. Already this summer, sun and extreme heat have begun to take their toll on Québec — particularly in the south. With the demand for water reaching very high levels in the summer months, many municipalities have implemented measures to restrict water use in recent years. This reality has consequences for our gardens and greenspaces. Why not consider creating a water-conserving garden? Yes, xeriscaping could be for you!

Xeriscaping for a garden that says “Thanks, I’m not thirsty”

The word xeriscaping was coined in 1981 to denote a type of landscaping designed to keep water consumption and maintenance low. It calls on principles such as mulching (to keep the soil cool by limiting evaporation), and using indigenous and xerophilic species that are more drought-resistant.
Furthermore, watering your lawn or garden is not always done efficiently, due to over-watering, evaporation or runoff. By practising xeriscaping, you pay particular attention to better management of water and preventing waste.

Advice from the Montréal Botanical Garden’s horticulturists

Managing your garden’s water needs requires a number of different strategies. So here is the advice of our team of horticulturists, who sum up the fundamental rules of xeriscaping as follows:

  1. Improve the water retention of your soil by adding a lot of compost or by using potting soil, which contains organic materials.
  2. Consider using plants that are more drought-resistant.
  3. Use compost, straw, fallen leaves or shredded bark as mulch on the soil to keep in the moisture.
  4. Position those plants that do need larger amounts of water where they are easy to reach or in an irrigated spot.This way, you can water those plants that are thirsty without watering the whole garden.
  5. Consider installing a drip irrigation system in your garden.
  6. Collect rainwater to be used to water your plants.

Top tips!

  • Water your garden and your lawn early in the morning, and not when it is windy. This will avoid excessive evaporation.
  • Encourage the growth of deep roots by watering generously only when necessary; this way, the roots will be able to search for water deeper in the soil and be better prepared for dry spells.

For more tips on how to use water wisely — especially on your lawn — consult his article from Environment Canada.

Do you have questions about this blog?
Visit our Green Pages Or, go to the Horticultural information counter at the Botanical Garden for personalized service. One of our experts will be happy to give you more information.

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