I love having a perennial garden in my front yard. It’s welcoming for visitors, a great way to attract bees for pollination and fresh cut flowers at the dinner table reminds me of why I live on a farm. It’s just beautiful!
Water is such a valuable resource, especially on a farm. Historically I found perennial gardens not only use a lot of water, they also require a lot of money, time and attention. That’s changed over time. The first thing we’ve done since we moved in is remove lawn which is a water sucking, fertilizer using, high maintenance nuisance. Expanding the perennial bed a little at a time into the lawn and filling in the bed with more drought tolerant plants is the objective.
Since we are spending a lot of money on chickens, bees and vegetables right now, there is no money for new ornamental plants. I’ve looked around the property for perennials that have weathered the recent years of neglect and divided them, moving them into the new planting spaces we are creating. It’s been very successful. There were a few plants I really wanted to add that were no where on the property. I bought packets of Blanket Flower (picture to the right) and Pineapple Sage seeds and grew a few transplants while I was growing the vegetable transplants. Cost effective and you get a lot of them this way.
I plant the divisions fairly close together so they reduce the sun’s exposure to the soil. I pull weeds before they start seeding and lay them down back to dry out on the soil for free organic mulch as seen to the left. Since we get a lot of grass, it makes a fantastic mulch.
Some plants also drop seeds to expand the plantings. One of my favorites, Cat Mint is famous for finding seedlings at the base of the plant shown above. I just dig up the seedlings and plant them in new spots to start up a new plant. Cat Mint is a wonderful plant that grows fast in almost any condition, smells minty and has nice purple flowers that really attract bees.
Here are some other plants that are very forgiving with lack of water or care.
Iris Lillies Daisies Lambs Ears Peonies Black Eyed Susan
Dianthus Echinacea Penstemon Yarrow Pincushion Roses Bee Balm
Herbs are also great as most are drought tolerant.
Drip irrigation or soaker hoses reduce water evaporation and will get the water right to the roots of the plant. They need only 5-15 minutes a day in the summer. They can thrive without extra watering the rest of the year. We are seriously considering a small pathway of artificial lawn through a large garden be. They technology on fake grass has come a long way! It would also keep the weeds more at bay than a walkway of rocks.
Next steps…..we will build a large patio in the backyard to eliminate the lawn and grow a perennial bed on the outer edge, surrounded by existing lilac bushes.
This is our dream to a virtually water free yard.