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Gulf Coast Gardening: Drought-Weary Solutions

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Sandy soils often leave home gardeners wondering how to fulfill their dreams and hopes for vibrant landscapes.

gulf coast

Sandy soil dries out quickly, even after a good rain shower. It lacks water-holding power and the nutrient value needed for healthy plants, and root growth is almost nil. Plus, prolonged drought conditions in Florida, resulting in watering restrictions, increase these problematic growing conditions.

The following are two solutions to combat poor soil quality and drought conditions:

Amend soil with organic materials - Modify sand with composted organic matter consistently over time. I mix in shredded leaves, chipped-up tree limbs, mushroom compost, homemade compost, well-aged bird and horse manure, blood meal and bone meal.

Plant drought-resistant and native plants - In my sunniest locations, where it’s nearly impossible to keep grass growing or needy ornamentals irrigated, I plant drought-resistant, low-maintenance plants that survive almost exclusively on rainfall.

In the sunniest and driest part of my front garden, I’ve removed the lawn because it demands too much water, fertilizer and pesticides. I’ve replaced the turf with attractive drifts of Fakahatchee (Tripsacum dactyloides) and purple muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) native grasses. Blending native plants of coontie (Zamia floridana), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium), firebush (Hamelia patens) and sensitive plant (Mimosa strigllosa) with low-maintenance

Florida-friendly perennials of flax lily (Dianella tasmanica variegata), bulbine ‘Hallmark’ and agapanthus (Agapanthus africanus) all work together to create an appealing design as well as conserve water usage and energy.

It saves lots of headaches when we work with the environment where we garden. Sticking with plants that excel in your area (and growing them in the right place) ensures a healthy garden—and happiness for the gardener.