Drought proofing your garden

We live in a tough climate of extremes - droughts and flooding rains. We may not be able to do anything about those rains at a very personal level, but we can combat the drought.

Growing a beautiful garden in drought conditions is always going to be challenging but it can be made easier with:

  • Healthy soil
  • Choosing the right plants
  • Water saving tips and tricks

light-bulb-icon@2x.png Drought proofing your garden

A garden can be as fragile or robust as you choose. With the right plants, proper training and a few tips and tricks, you can create a beautiful garden that won’t wilt without water.

Healthy soil


Drought proofing your garden starts with the soil.

  • Improve its structure by adding bulk quantities of organics like compost and aged manures
  • Work the soil by forking or digging it over, to improve air and water penetration
  • Mulch to a depth of 7-10cm with an organic mulch to minimise water loss and keep the soil cool
  • More tips on creating a healthy soil

The right plants


Some plants will cope better in a drought than others, but that doesn’t mean that you should only plant cacti!

  • Plant for your climate
    Plants that grow well in your climate will be the better performers in your garden. Those needing a lot of nurturing in order to survive will be the first to collapse under trying circumstances.
  • Look for drought tolerant or low water use plants
    Plants originating in the Mediterranean region have adapted to endure long periods without supplementary water. These include olives, geraniums and, yes, even roses.
    For guidance on what will not only survive but thrive in your area, look at neighbours' gardens, browse your local garden centre or refer to a good Australian gardening book on the subject.
  • Use foliage colour and form for maximum impact.
    Grey and thick leaved plants are generally very water efficient and drought tolerant, so design a garden that makes the most of these plants.
    Look for foliage colour and texture to add interest and contrast in your garden throughout the year.
  • Buy quality, healthy plants
    The bargain corner of the nursery may seem ok, but you can be buying a cheap headache. Look for healthy plants that will be able to cope with having to survive in the garden, rather than struggling plants that need nurturing.

light-bulb-icon@2x.png Water saving tips and tricks


There are many ways to save water and still keep your garden growing well.

Teach your plants to search for water

When you water the garden, do so for a longer period of time but less often - so water soaks deep down into the soil. This encourages plants to develop extensive root systems which are more drought tolerant.
Short daily watering is an absolute 'no-no' if you want to teach your plants to be more self-sufficient and your garden to survive.

Group thirsty plants together

If you must have a couple of 'water guzzler' plants, try growing them in close proximity of one another so you only need to watch and frequently water that one small area, rather than the entire garden.

Remove weeds

Weeds need water too and they usually are far more efficient at getting it than most of your garden plants. Removing weeds reduces competition and makes sure the plants you want to keep are getting the water.

Mulch with an organic mulch

Reduce moisture loss from the soil (evaporation) and plants (transpiration) by adding an insulating mulch over the soil. It keeps the soil cooler and also reduces reflected heat from the soil surface, cooling the air around plants. Mulch also helps control weeds, so it's a win-win situation for your garden.

Water the roots, not the leaves

Plants take in water and nutrients from the soil through their roots. Make sure you water the soil around plants and apply enough to reach the entire root zone. 

Watering the foliage may cool the plants down briefly after a hot day but it also encourages fungal problems to develop.

Water droplets on leaves may also cause burn spots - the heat of the sun is amplified through the water resulting in leaves being burned or scorched.

When water is scarce

Focus on the areas that need it most. These could be those nearest the house.

If choices must be made, think carefully about which plants to save.

Generally. they should be the most established and/or expensive. Usually, if the garden is well prepared, a deep water once every two weeks is enough to keep plants alive during a drought.

Tips, tricks & advice

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Other products you might need

Scotts Everydrop Premium Water Storing Crystals


Scotts Everydrop crystals absorb and hold up to 100 times their own weight of water. Unlike other crystals, Scotts Everydrop is acrylamide-free and completely safe

Scotts Everydrop Premium Granular Soil Wetter


Scotts Everydrop granules are designed to maximise every drop of water, consistently and evenly. Safe to use in every garden situation - on pots, lawns and garden beds.

Scotts Everydrop Premium Liquid Soil Wetter


Easy to use, liquid wetting agent that maximises every drop of water added to the garden by watering or rains. It improves water absorption by up to 50%

Scotts Pure Organic Premium Compost & Soil Improver


A premium quality certified 100% organic compost and soil improver that keeps things simple for growing tasty food and gorgeous flowers and foliage. It improves the overall vitality of your soil so plants grow better and stronger.

Scotts Osmocote® Professional Compost & Soil Improver


An organically enriched compost that improves and revitalises garden soils, boosts plant health and encourages stronger, more productive growth.

Scotts Osmocote® Plus Trace Elements Organic Garden Soil


The smart way to fertilise the entire garden - one easy application feeds continuously for up to 12 months