How Much Do You Know About Drought-Friendly Gardening?

By: Zoe Samuel

How Much Do You Know About Drought-Friendly Gardening?
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Gardening is a very healthy and pleasant activity for people of any age. With modern tools being the way they are, you really don't need to be very mobile to be able to maintain a lovely garden. However. there are a lot of places where it is hard to predict how much water you're likely to get, whether from the ground or the sky, in any given season, and as the climate warms, this will only become a more serious problem.

Droughts don't just happen in places like California or Arizona. They also happen in rainy places, as technically a drought is just another word for, "Less rain than this area typically gets." A drought is thus something that any gardener should be prepared to tackle. After all, there is nothing more miserable than working your butt off to make your garden a haven for you and your family, only to have it shrivel up and turn into a miserable brown wasteland. That means knowing what plants to plant, how to conserve water, how to use shade wisely and what fertilizers and tools to use are all key to a successful drought-proof garden. Do you know how to do all that? Let's find out!

We're going to start with soil and grass, as they are the baseline. What grass should you NOT put down for your drought-prone lawn?
Bermuda grass
Kikuyu grass
Dwarf Perennial Ryegrass
Bluegrass
This is a terrible choice for your garden in a drought. It's commonly used for fancy lawns - sadly, most of America uses it, which is a waste. It'll suck up all the water. Don't use it!

Advertisement

If you have a lawn, which of the below is best to do with the grass clippings?
Bag them.
Leave them on the grass.
You should just leave the grass clippings where they are so they can give their nutrients and moisture to the soil. Or you can do something we'll talk about in just a moment!
Water them.
Burn them.

Advertisement

What organic covering might you use to keep your soil healthy?
Mulch
Mulch is when you spread something over your soil to cover it. It's usually organic and you can make it yourself. It keeps the temperature down and stops moisture escaping. Good mulch might be made of grass clippings, compost or other materials. Think of it like putting a lid on the cup that is your soil.
Bark
Gravel
Wood

Advertisement

How can you help your soil breathe?
Mow the lawn.
Avoid decking.
Avoid shade.
Aeration
Aerating is when you use a device that looks a bit like a big pie crimper to poke holes in the soil. This helps moisture travel down so it reaches roots, instead of staying on the surface. Handy tip: stiletto heels also aerate the lawn (for real) so wear them on it with pride.

Advertisement

Will a stone surface (patio, gravel, etc) help or hinder your garden in a drought?
Help
Hinder
Stone does use less water than a lawn, but it sucks up heat from the sun, and your drought-prone garden is likely in a hot place. That means putting stones on it means lightly cooking the soil underneath, as well as reflecting heat into all the plants (and you!). It's the worst contributor to the urban heat island effect. Stone also is not porous, meaning water runs off it and is wasted. Soil is your friend, as it drinks whatever the sky gives it.
Mostly help, some hinder
Mostly hinder, some help

Advertisement

What's the number one natural predictor of soil moisture?
Rainfall
Humidity
Soil mix
A good soil is like a good savings account, but for water. It doesn't just hang onto what you (or nature) put in, it makes the best use of it, so that things can grow.
Temperature

Advertisement

What should a good drought-tolerant soil contain?
Clay
Chalk
Loam
Loamy soil is sandy. It has lots of gaps for water to go into and stay there. It's the best soil for hanging onto the water that it does get. If you don't naturally have loamy soil, then you can get compost or mulch that will help you out.
Peat

Advertisement

Why is grass so darn good at coming back from drought?
It isn't always, it really depends.
It grows from the bottom, so it can survive losing the ends.
Grass grows from the bottom, unlike most plants. That means if you cut the top off, or simply let it shrivel for lack of water, the root is fine. The grass just grows again when conditions improve. That's why it is among the most successful plants in history.
It's a scientific mystery.
It can hold twice its mass in water.

Advertisement

Why should you sharpen your mower blade in a drought?
You shouldn't; trick question!
A clean cut looks neater, so at least your brown lawn won't be ragged.
A clean cut on the grass helps it keep water in.
A ragged chop will not do your lawn any favors. Grass likes a nice, clean cut so it has minimum surface area from which to lose water. Sharpen those blades!
It tugs less on the grass that way, which spares the root that holds all the moisture.

Advertisement

We did the bad grass. Let's talk good grass. If you want a drought-friendly grassy area, what's a good choice?
Creeping Bent grass
Bent grass
Bermuda grass
Buffalo grass
Buffalo grass is your friend! It's not as fat and jolly under the feet as bluegrass, but it's fine stuff. It can survive prairie living where the sun is strong and the rain unpredictable.

Advertisement

Time to talk about what else to plant besides grass! Which of these is a great drought-friendly flower that smells good?
Rose
Lavender
Lavender is beautiful and it can take a drought. Its lovely purple flowers and strong smell will brighten up the garden!
Phlox
Ostrich fern

Advertisement

From what areas of the world might you find plants that will work?
Mediterranean
Southern California
Central Asia
All of the above
All these places are arid or prone to drought. That means plants that grow naturally there can be very beautiful and happy in your drought-prone garden.

Advertisement

What do all these have in common: Grand Mesa, Scarlet Bugler, Prairie Jewels?
They are names for all the same plant.
Nothing.
They love drought.
They are varieties of the same plant.
These are all penstemon varieties, also known as beardtongue. They flower beautifully in a drought.

Advertisement

Let's talk foliage. Which of these will offer a nice gray-green foliage AND handles drought well?
Caladiums
Artemisia
Artemisia is a great choice. Lamb's ears will also provide a lovely gray-green foliage for a drought-prone garden. The other options here are lovely but not so good in a drought.
Coleus
Heuchera

Advertisement

Which of these orange or yellow flowers is great in a drought?
Daffodil
Marigold
Daylily
Daylily is a great choice for your garden. It has vivid orange and yellow flowers that are very big. If you like daffodils, it's the closest thing.
Pansy

Advertisement

Let's pick out a purple or blue flower that loves drought! Which of these fits the bill?
Catmint
Catmint looks a little like lavender and loves a drought. It's a blue-purple flowering plant.
Orchid
Iris
Hyacinth

Advertisement

Let's pick out perennials. Which of these is NOT great in a drought?
Pickerelweed
All the other perennials here will survive drought. You can also plant onions, whether to eat or to look at!
Yarrow
Agave
Giant hyssop

Advertisement

How about some annuals? Which of these is NOT good in a drought?
Moss rose
Cosmos
Common geranium
Dahlia
Dahlia is a lovely plant but it does love water. Plant it in your rainy garden, perhaps where you spend the winter!

Advertisement

If you want a nice summer-to-winter bloom, which of these can handle the drought?
Sweetpea
Crocus
Creeping gray germander
Creeping gray germander is a stunning flowering plant that blooms for literally several months at once! It can handle the drought to add a swath of gorgeous purple-pink to your garden.
Freesia

Advertisement

Time to throw some shade. Which tree does NOT like drought?
California sycamore
Eldarica pine
Atlantic White Cedar
The Atlantic White Cedar loves water. The other trees here will grow in drought though, and shade your beautiful garden.
Kentucky coffee tree

Advertisement

What does a root stimulant do?
Basically, baby food for young plants, to make them grow quicker
Many plants can live in drought, but only if they are mature. Getting them big enough to do the rest themselves is thus an investment in the future of your garden.
A watering system that provides water to the root
A vibrating system that some people believe helps the roots get bigger
A special kind of soil

Advertisement

Which of these is the technical term for a plant that needs only a little water?
Droughter
Xeric
Xeric is basically the opposite of hydric. It means something that doesn't need a lot of water, like a cactus - or in this case, like your amazing garden!
Desertified
Skinny

Advertisement

What good is a garden without birds? What sort of birds might you see in your drought-prone garden?
Woodpecker
Wren
Hummingbird
All of the above!
All these birds are going to come to your place when they see your garden. They live in drier climates, but that doesn't mean they won't appreciate a more verdant area when they see one.

Advertisement

If you want to attract birds, where should you put the birdbath (other than, obviously, a place that cats can't reach)?
In the shade
Shade is best, as it is cooler. Birds will come to your garden if you make it comfortable. A birdhouse, feeder and birdbath will bring them in. One trick with a birdbath is prick a small hole in a jug and put it over the birdbath to replenish it (as birds will drink or spill it and it will evaporate). The dripping sound will also attract birds to visit.
In the sun
Either
In dappled shade

Advertisement

Don't let drought stop you enjoying a vibrant kitchen garden. Which of these is a drought-tolerant veg you can grow in your garden?
Dasher cucumber
Armenian cucumber
The Armenian cucumber hails from a place that doesn't get a lot of rain. That means if you want a delicious salad, this is the key veggie to grow in your drought-tolerant garden.
Sweet success cucumber
Straight eight cucumber

Advertisement

Which of these is a drought-tolerant vegetable?
Prickly pear cactus
The prickly pear cactus may not sound like food, but it is! It's actually yummy. The fruits and the leaves - known as pads - are both edible.
Pear tree
Plum tree
Celery

Advertisement

Which of these vegetables can also tolerate drought?
Watermelon
Iroquois cantaloupe
You probably have had this melon before but did not know its full name. The Iroquois melon is a wonderful sweet and tangy melon with orange flesh and a green rind. It'll grow in your desert garden!
Honeydew melon
Mango

Advertisement

Which of these veggies does NOT like drought?
Okra
Avocado
Yep, avocados do not like drought. Thyme, okra and "pineapple" tomatoes do, though, so go ahead and get planting with them! Just get your avocados imported from someplace rainier.
Thyme
"Pineapple" tomato

Advertisement

Now for some water-saving questions! Let's build a path. What is a permeable stepping stone?
A flagstone with a gap around it
Pebbles in mesh, formed into a stepping stone
This path will let the water drain through it instead of off it. You're essentially capturing rain, which is free water! It also looks awesome.
Stone that absorbs water
Limestone stepping stones

Advertisement

What is gray water?
Water that hit the house first
Rainwater on the ground
Household waste water that is clean
Gray water is "waste water from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other kitchen appliances" that is clean enough to re-use. If you expect a drought quite often, you should invest in a system that collects this water for use in the garden. It pays for itself!
Water that is tainted

Advertisement

What's the best way to collect water in a barrel?
Scoop it from the gutter.
Redo the pipes.
Put out a barrel.
Reroute the downspout.
Gutters collect rainwater so it goes safely away from your roof. Point the downspout into a barrel and boom, free water for when you need it.

Advertisement

What time of day should you water?
Morning or evening
Early morning or evening are best to water, as the heat is lower, meaning evaporation is slower. That means more of the water stays on the plant long enough to soak into the soil and get into the roots.
Afternoon
Night
Anytime

Advertisement

What can steal water from your garden, and must thus be kept out?
Animals
Weeds
A weed is any plant that is not where it should be. Get rid of them - they are taking the water from your beloved lawn and flowers!
Wind
Sports

Advertisement

What is a swale?
A plant that needs almost no water
A slope designed to trap water
A water butte
A trench that catches water
A swale is a trench that you cut into a slope. It is angled such that water that would otherwise run off the slope and be wasted goes into the swale and collects. Boom - more free water!

Advertisement

Why is a drip-irrigation system better than just watering?
It puts the water down by the roots.
Watering the soil is fine. Watering the root directly is better. This system can take the water to the root so nothing is wasted.
It's not, it's a scam.
It uses less water.
It's less labor-intensive once installed.

Advertisement

You Got:
/35

Featured