How do you plant a landscape under drought conditions?

Photo credit: New World Associates

Landscapes in Drought

by Bruce Eitzen NWA

Posted by New World on Thursday, February 23, 2017 Under: Drought
Cape Town and the SW Cape has been experiencing a severe drought in the last few years. Now, in late February 2017, the city’s reservoirs have only 4 months water supply left! And the hot, dry and windy weather is continuing, especially down in the Peninsula where gardening in this extreme weather with water rationing is highly challenging.

Nevertheless, life goes on and so does development. A current project under construction in Bellville, a landscape we are collaborating on with Earthworks Landscape Architects, at the Karl Bremer Hospital, where two office blocks have been developed and are completing soon, has suffered the city-wide ban on irrigation of landscapes by hosepipes and irrigation systems. Furthermore, more severe restrictions on any type of watering are likely.

So how do you plant a landscape under these conditions? Quite simply, as far as possible, don’t! At least, not until the hot dry summer and early autumn are over. Conditions in the Peninsula have been so windy that once the 30-40km/h “strong breezes” (according to weather app YR), in reality near gale force, have blown for days and nights, any soil preparations have been blown flat and scoured of their top inch of compost and soil! It is not a good idea to plant, especially if you can’t water!

However, as a sustainable industry by its very nature, landscape architecture needs to be practising sound planting design, which we already are, namely, through the specification of locally indigenous, that is, endemic planting, as well as a good soil preparation specification that includes heavy composting and mulching.

Read the full article: New World Associates

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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