Design for Drought

Algerian iris heads my garden’s bulb parade this week!

Algerian iris Austin Texas

Thanks to its Mediterranean roots, dry times don’t bring on a shudder. Drought isn’t new to Texas, either. It’s just easy to forget in a rainy spell.

Algerian iris Austin garden

What’s different, climate changes aside, is that gardeners are connecting to the broader and long-term picture of water conservation. For one thing, we’re growing plants that weren’t on our radar not so long ago.

Agaves and cactus in containers Bob Barth garden

We cherish our natural gifts, instead of trying to conquer them.

agaves in rocks Ten Eyck Austin garden

We’ve swapped grass and dull hedges for the double W: wildlife and water-wise.

Drought garden Temple Texas drought tough curb strip austin texas CTG drought tough wildlife garden austin texas CTG drought wildlife garden kyle texas

We’ve learned how to catch, direct, and control rainfall in rain gardens, berms and swales, barrels, and dry creeks.

dry creek drought plants Jenny Stocker garden CTG recycled glass dry creek bed Hutto Texas CTG

In food gardens, we’re drip irrigating and adapting lawn sprinkler heads.

sprinkler head adapted for drip irrigation CTG

And exploring techniques like wicking beds, hugelkultur and ollas.

ollas in wicking bed at in.gredients austin texas CTG

We’ve taken a cue from the past with heritage favorites that thrived when watering meant a pump, not a spigot. One of them is iris, Daphne’s Plant of the Week.

iris and poppies Temple garden CTG

Even when not in bloom, their structural foliage is a relief from fluffier plants. Adaptable to heavy soil like mine, or rockier spots like this, they perform with minor adjustments.

Jenny Stocker drought garden CTG

One big question: How and when do we fertilize iris? Daphne recommends using a blend that’s high in phosphorous but LOW in nitrogen. Apply mid-February to March and again after flowering. Find out why.

Yellow and white iris Temple garden CTG

And check out Trisha’s tips for dividing in fall, since that’s essential for more flowers, too.

For Surroundings Landscape Architect Kenneth Francis, water ethics are the starting point in designs from his New Mexico home-base, which now includes Austin (and beyond). He joins Tom to illustrate infrastructure concepts that wrangle water, regardless of style.

Tom Spencer with Surroundings Landscape Architect Kenneth Francis

Kenneth explains his starting point, which you can adapt by analyzing your own house and landscape.

Surroundings landscape architecture water conservation render

In one of his landscapes, this charming rill carries water to its various destinations.

Surroundings rill design photo by Kate Russell

This berm also acts as a privacy and sound barrier against a busy road.

Surroundings landscape architecture berm design photo by Kate Russell

And check out these solar bricks on a driveway!

Solar bricks Surroundings landscape architecture design photo by Kate Russell

In the vegetable garden, wouldn’t you love to pick your own organic asparagus? Since now’s a perfect time to plant your crowns, John Dromgoole shows how to prep and plant.

how to grow asparagus John Dromgoole Central Texas Gardener

On tour, from the mouths of babes, get wise lessons on watershed protection from Earth Camp fifth-graders at the Becker Elementary Green Classroom.

watershed safety Becker Elementary Austin Texas CTG

Thanks for stopping by! See you next week, Linda