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In some parts of Italy, the climate is not particularly inclined to host a particularly humid and lush garden. It can happen because the winters are cold, or maybe because the summers are intensely hot for long periods of time (often, until October) and with little rain.
In short, even if we all would like to pleasantly admire a particularly green and humid garden, for some time - also thanks to the climate changes and the new trends in green "furniture" material - a new generation of garden designers is emerging, inspired by the love for the dry garden landscape and the plant communities that thrive here naturally.
But what are the main indications that should be kept in mind in order to design a nice dry garden? Let's try to summarize it, sharing some of the combinations of plants which can be used in a dry garden project.
Design a dry garden
The first thing we recommend doing when you want to design a dry garden is to choose plants from regions with a "long" seasonality, hot and dry which have low water needs rather than drought tolerance.
Therefore, plants should be encouraged to root deeply by breaking the soil in the planting hole as deeply as possible at the base and watering little and abundantly. Instead, watering often but lightly only encourages the roots on the surface.
We then proceed with planting when the plants are young. Older or larger cultivated plants will have a shallow root system, which makes them vulnerable to heat and drought. It is also good that you promote lean and slow growth of plants, without overdoing the nourishment. Plants are more resilient when grown slowly. Feeding plants from stressful environments can in fact lead to several years of strong growth followed by a sudden decline.
Also beware of mulching, which can retain moisture in the soil and, above all, the fresh roots. The bark is good, but gravel or other mineral mulches are better, but only if the soil in the plantation is not disturbed.
Further, we emphasize how irrigation is essential for plants to look good, rather than survive. But since some plants, such as lavender, suffer from a higher risk of fungal diseases, the plants should be grouped according to their watering needs.
How to make a dry garden
But how to create a dry garden? How to set up a dry garden, pleasant and decorative enough exactly as your ambitions?
The first thing you need to do in order to create a dry garden is to choose the most suitable plant species for a garden without water. From shrubs to aromatic plants, from climbing plants to perennial herbaceous plants, there are many opportunities that can be pursued in order to obtain a pleasant and personalized solution.
As for the most suitable varieties, the list is evidently full-bodied and well diversified. Think about:
- the juniper;
- the rosemary;
- the tamarisk;
- the sage;
These are plants that, in addition to tolerating drought quite well, are also able to withstand winter temperatures.
It is clear that your goal should be to group plants that have the same water and crop needs, in order to optimize your dry garden management efforts. Of course, nothing prevents you from introducing plants that have different "nutritional" characteristics into your very personal dry garden, but it will cost you much more energy (and money).
Once you have chosen the species, it is certainly best to opt for young, small and robust plants, which can adapt better and more quickly to the soil. Furthermore, as we have already partially stated, these plants will be able to develop more vigorously over a two-year period, albeit gradually. It is better to avoid introducing those plants that come from particularly humid and mild climates into the dry garden, which certainly would not survive without special irrigation during the summer season.
Speaking of elements to be able to cope with the best management of the dry garden, a particular attention must be paid to the lawn: having a good turf in the dry garden is essential, and to be able to obtain it even without water you can use different macrothermal essences . Alternatively, this element can be replaced with gravel or sand.
Also remember that although it is called a dry garden ... it certainly does not mean that it cannot be watered, even naturally! Therefore, while it is true that water may be lacking during the summer season, during autumn and winter it is still possible that the plants enjoy seasonal rains.
Finally, considering the characteristics and needs of plants growing in a dry garden, our last suggestion is to always plant the species during the autumn season, so that they can take advantage of the winter rains that will soon arrive. Speaking of winter, this season it will be necessary to provide good drainage in order to avoid stagnation on the roots, which could be particularly dangerous.