Tracey Cole

Tracey Cole

Drought…. How to manage it ?

2017/2018 have without doubt been the worst drought for Cape town for yonks. I as a landscaper have seen so many gardens including my own just suffer sooo very much. With lawns going to sand and 70% of most garden plants dying from the heat, and lack of water… it absolutely breaks my heart.

Fear not though, we have had a massive wake up call, no matter what Donald Trump has said. the world IS warming up and we have to shift to a new form of gardening. Most Cape Tonians have started to make the move towards getting their lawn removed, grey water systems in place and opting for the new norm gardens.

There are many designs of lovely gardens one can enjoy whilst living in a hot climate with little water. look all around us, Australia can do it, California, Brazil… so many to name. Not only do they cope and have lovely gardens but they also still have their edible gardens. It is all about changing our ideas and a little learning and change of mindset.

I have put some ideas together to kick start your possible new venture with your drought tolerant garden.

1: lawns, to be honest they will be soon a thing of the past in Cape Town. Listen I adore lawns, I am born and breed in England so I am very keen on lawns. However, Cape Town we just cannot sustain a lawn any longer, a very small area of lawn possibly but a large area… then forget it. Even if you have a borehole, restrictions will again I am sure be put in place and you’re your lawn will not get the water it so needs.

2: Plants: I have heard and even written about xeriscaping which is a form of drought tolerant gardens using mostly succulents and cacti First, let me say this is not about cacti and succulents or xeriscaping or rock gardens.  When you say the words drought and tolerant together in the same sentence, people often do think of the plants and topics just mentioned.  Although I am very fond of succulents and cacti, many people are not.  For some, they bring to mind a hot, barren environment full of thorny things that seldom bloom and that are always situated in a sea of gravel and white rocks, where tumble weeds roll by.  This is definitely not about that. I prefer to use the term “hardy” plants, and plants that are surviving in the harsh climate, mostly they will be indigenous but they don’t have to be… Hardy for me is the word I like to use. Look in the area you live in and see what is growing and surviving, that is your hardy plant.

3: Hardscape: Using paving, gravel and rocks is a great way to change the landscape of your garden visually. However, we should think about keeping this all to a minimum, hardscape looks better when used in conjunction with hardy plants.  Don’t forget if we use just gravel or just paving not only is it bland but it also heats up the area by reflection of the sun. The best way is to incorporate all, use rockeries or the river bed look, use bark and gravel but plant all the “hardy plants” around. Not only are we then getting the best of both worlds but we are encouraging nature to stay in our garden. There are many designs one can have in their garden, we at Village Gardens have designed countless drought tolerant gardens and trust me when I say they look amazing and clients have reported back that the birdies and the bees are coming back… music to my ears.

We can all have a great garden in the drought conditions we have experienced and may continue to. Even if we do get rain, it may not be enough or it may be, this is just it no one really knows. Look I am no scientist but what I do know is what I see and the world climate is changing. So rather let’s get prepped and get our new lovely Cape Town gardens in order and prepared for whatever weather conditions hit us, let us help you.

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