Low Maintenance Gardening
Garden Design Tips for Hot and Dry Gardens


A Moroccan style garden is useful, and low maintenance gardening style for hot and dry gardens



Low Maintenance Gardening Tips for Hot and Dry Gardens

Learn how to create stylish and low maintenance gardening ideas for hot and dry gardens.

Planting ideas that will thrive in these conditions...

Find out more...

Generally, plants love sunshine - but, as with many things in life, you can have too much of a good thing...

Some positions in a garden can be excessively hot and dry - which means not all plants will be able to survive there...

Of course, lots of light in a garden can be a good thing too!

Take a look at this page, discussing light and shade in gardens

A lot will depend on the direction or aspect your garden faces - more about taking aspect into account, here with other tips and solutions for hot and sunny gardens...

Also look at planting ideas for every aspect, here...

low maintenance gardening for hot and dry sites - a mediterranean style works very well





Is your garden hot and dry?

To recognise if you have hot and dry conditions in your own garden, look out for:

  • fast draining soil
  • sandy soil
  • stony or gravelly soil
  • chalky soil
  • south facing beds and slopes
  • sunny walls

What you can do about it

If you have dry conditions in shade click here for more help.

Hot, dry and sunny sites only need to become gardening problems if you ignore the conditions, and go ahead and use unsuitable plants...

In fact, there are plenty of plants that love to live in hot and sunny gardens!

Use mediterranean plants for low maintenance gardening for hot and dry sites



A little research and time can mean you can still create a stunning and successful garden, with your garden design ideas...

...and you can get to use many gorgeous and beautiful plants too!

Also you won't need to spend all summer long watering your garden - this is low maintenance gardening for you!

One solution is to really 'go with the flow' (or lack of it!) and use desert gardening, mediterranean gardening and drought tolerant plants, for easy, low maintenance gardening...

One really notable garden that has used this technique really successfully is the Beth Chatto Dry Garden - a wonderful gravel garden is Essex, UK.

See 'The Dry Garden' book by Beth Chatto, or 'Beth Chatto's Gravel Garden' or 'Drought Resistant Planting' book, for more details of how she creates this look.



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You can also do some preliminary work on your garden soil, to create more welcoming conditions for a wider range of plants...

Improving the Soil
Landscape Design for Low Maintenance Planting

Use your Actions and Solutions Checklist to make notes for your own garden...

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Improving the Soil

It does make for more easy gardening, and low maintenance gardening too, if you try to improve the soil on hot and dry sites...

You can do this before your first planting (for low maintenance gardening, plants should be planted in Autumn, so you don't need to do as much watering as the new plants establish themselves)...

...but you will also need to 'top up' at regular intervals.

You can:

  • Dig in lots of organic matter including:
    • leaf mold
    • garden compost
    • soil conditioner
  • Add a surface mulch regularly (late winter is a good time to do this):
    • bark chips
    • wood chippings
    • compost
    • slate chippings
    • gravel
    • pebbles
    • crushed shells (great for coastal gardens!)


  • Sempervivum are a good choice for low maintenance gardening in hot, dry gardens - dress with gravel

    Sempervivums in gravel

  • Fork in water-retaining gel-crystals
  • Add some extra foliage cover (more plants - especially ground-cover plants) to keep the soil cool and shady

Low Maintenance Planting Garden Design Ideas

It is one of the best garden design ideas for easy gardening on hot and dry sites, to plant flowers and shrubs that cope really well with these sorts of conditions...

Your resulting garden will:

  • look better
  • last longer
  • mean easier, low maintenance gardening for you - less watering!

  • Plants that love a desert gardening climate (hot and dry) have evolved specially to cope with these conditions...

    ...as well as the plants listed below, also look out for plants with:

    • Silver, grey and blue leaves and foliage
    • Fine hair on leaves (usually those with a silver, grey or blue appearance)
    • Waxy leaves
    • Thin, needle-like leaves
    • Aromatic (scented) leaves (not flowers!) - such as Lavender, or Rosemary - these contain 'volatile oils', which evaporate and protect the plant.
    • Succulents - these store water, like a camel's hump! - thick fleshy leaves - for example: Sempervivums (House Leeks) and Sedums (Stonecrops)


    • Sedum - good for low maintenance planting in hot dry gardens

      Sedum (Stonecrop)
      These come in many different sizes, tall to ground cover

    • Plants with green (not 'woody') stems, such as Genista (Brooms) and Gorse.
  • Look out for typical Mediterranean Plants to enhance your desert gardening conditions - as these are mostly very drought-tolerant...

    ...and have actually evolved to deal with such hot and dry gardening conditions.

  • Plants that like sandy soils should also grow well in hot and dry conditions
  • If you also have cold, or wet winters, take care not to choose plants which are too tropical and tender, and won't withstand a hard winter out in the garden - check books and/or labels to make sure.

Some Plants to Consider

  • Genista aetensis (Mount Etna Broom)
    • A lovely tree, with fragrant yellow blossom in Summer. Prefers light, poor soils.
  • Yucca gloriosa or Yucca filamentosa
    • Dramatic, spiky focal plant, with impressive columns of flowers


  • A yucca is a great choice for low maintenance gardening for hot, dry gardens

    Yucca

  • Lavandula (Lavender varieties)
    • Frangrant herb with purple flowers - great for cottage garden or mediterranean styles.
  • Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
    • Aromatic herb - loves a hot, dry spot, in poor soil
  • Sedum 'Herbstfreude' ('Autumn Joy') (Stonecrop)
    • Also try 'Ruby Glow'.
    • An attractive succulent, with long-lasting pink flowers, from late summer to Autumn - one of my favorites.
  • Echinops ritro (Globe Thistle)
    • Unusual plant with spiky, blue, globe flowers in Summer - lovely!


  • Echinops ritro - low maintenance gardening for hot, dry gardens

    Echinops ritro

  • Cytisus (Broom)
    • Varieties of shrubs with little flowers, usually yellow. Useful!
  • Achillea filipendulima 'Coronation Gold' (Yarrow)
    • Ferny leaves, and flat heads of yellow - great for cut flowers and for drying.
  • Eryngium tripartitum (Sea Holly)
    • Unusual plant with blue flowers, and silvery-blue stems and leaves.
    • Great for sandy soils


    • Eryngium Blue Saphire - sea holly - low maintenance gardening for hot, dry gardens

      Eryngium 'Blue Saphire'

    • Suitable for cut flowers and drying
  • Rosa 'Roseraie de l'Hay'
    • Not many roses are suitable for dry conditions, but this one could do well! Pretty, deep pink flowers - creates a large bush.




Also try:

  • Tulips
  • Caryopteris (Blue spirea)
  • Cistus (Rock rose)
  • Helianthemum nummularium (Common rock rose)
  • Verbascum (Mullein)
  • Kniphofia (Red hot poker plant)
  • Geranium (Hardy geranium, Cranesbill)
  • Iris germanica (Flag iris)
  • Agapanthus (African lily)
  • Stipa (grass)
  • Tropaeolum (Nasturtium)
  • Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy)
  • Sempervivum (House Leek)
  • Crocus
  • Philadelphus (Mock Orange) especially Philadephus coronarius for very dry soils
  • ...and lots more...

For low maintenance gardening for dry gardens in shade see shade gardens advice, here...

If your hot and dry garden is also by the sea, look at Coastal Gardening Hints, here...

The garden help for sandy soils may also be useful...

Note down observations and ideas for your own garden on your checklist

Choosing the right plant for the right place is really important, and particularly so for potential gardening problems, such as hot and dry gardens...

By choosing plants that cope well, you'll be sure you'll have a garden that works well for you...

I recommend Nicola Ferguson's 'Right Plant Right Place' book as a very comprehensive guide for choosing your own right plants...

Or try this very handy little RHS Guide:

I have both on my bookshelf - a good set!
Essential for low maintenance gardening!

Check out garden aspect solutions and garden aspect planting for more low maintenance gardening design tips.

You can also visit my favorite website for drought resistant plants, with loads of useful plant help and info - find out more about drought tolerant plants, here...

And get inspiration from real-life gardens, such as the Mediterranean Biome at the Eden Project in Cornwall

Return to the main page for Site Considerations and to continue with your checklist

Return to the main page for the complete set of steps for Starting a Garden Design

Return from this Low Maintenance Gardening - Garden Design Tips for Hot and Dry Gardens page to the Home Page

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