Weatherproof Your Garden
The right plants in the right place can go a long way toward helping to mitigate the effects of the weather on your garden.
Help ensure that your garden can ride out the vagaries of weather by including plants that handle a wide range of conditions. Daylilies have sometimes been called the "perfect perennial." Low maintenance, heat tolerant and pest resistant, they put up with a wide range of soil types and light conditions, and each variety produces at least a week's worth of prolific blooms. They don't mind occasionally having wet feet and, once established, they're resistant to drought. Extreme dryness may cause them to go dormant, but they usually recover. USDA Zones 3 to 10.
Besides being easy to weed, raised beds allow an early start for spring crops because the soil warms faster than in-ground garden beds. This gorgeous bed of mixed lettuces was posted by RMSer sunangel106.
The tender new foliage on some plants, such as Japanese maple, can get singed by late-spring frosts, but the damage is usually short-lived and doesn't hurt the plant. For maximum protection, avoid planting the dissectum varieties in locations with open southern exposure.
The blossoms of fruit trees and shrubs can be subject to mid-spring frosts. Blueberry blossoms that are fully open are damaged at 28 degrees F. The absolutely best place to plant fruit crops is on a north-facing slope, where the plants won't be stimulated to bud out too early in the year. Another good option: Choose late-blooming cultivars.
Also known as Indian laurel, the Chinese banyan tree (Ficus microcarpa) is a shallow-rooted tree that has poor wind resistance. Other shallow-rooted trees include Australian pine, Arizona cypress and Norway maple.
Some trees hold up to storms better than others. Species like silver maple, eucalyptus and Bradford pear are brittle and snap easily. Trees that are diseased or damaged by pests, incorrect pruning or mower damage are also more likely to succumb to storms.
Pruning to remove weak crotches and multiple leaders helps reduce the chance of splintering during high winds. A 90-degree crotch is stronger than a narrow branching angle.
Celebrate the beauty of breezes in the garden with ornamental grasses that lend movement to the landscape. Pampas grass is salt and drought tolerant and, to some extent, tolerant of periodic flooding.
Besides the weight of snow and ice cracking plant structures, another wintertime hazard for plants is road salt. The most resistant plants include daylily, columbine, pink (Dianthus), spirea, juniper, white ash, goldenrain tree, honeylocust and fringetree.
Once established, arborvitae can handle a wide range of soil types, from very wet to dry. 'Yellow Ribbon', shown here, has bright yellow-green, wavy foliage.
Whether the site is a permanent pond or occasional standing water, yellow flag iris can handle prolonged immersion.
Native to wet areas, summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) is a great selection for moist to wet soils. In midsummer, when few other shrubs are blooming, it produces fragrant flower clusters that bees and hummingbirds love. USDA Zones 4 to 9
Among the other shrubs that can handle prolonged submersion: red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), tartarian dogwood (Cornus alba), yaupon holly and winterberry (Ilex verticillata).
Pair plants that like similar conditions — in this case, moist soil. A shrub-form variegated willow and heuchera share space in this design by RMSer blondegardener.
Clematis absolutely can't tolerate flooding, so be sure to plant it where it's likely to always have excellent drainage.
Desert beardtongue (Penstemon pseudospectabilis) is a great wildlife-attracting perennial for a low-water garden. Native to New Mexico, it thrives in heat as long as you water it deeply every couple of weeks or so. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 10.
If you have an area in your landscape that occasionally gets wet but dries out reasonably well in a few days, you're safe planting astilbe, as well as cardinal flower, sedge, rose mallow, summersweet, hibiscus, European cranberrybush viburnum, leucothoe, fothergilla, inkberry, sweetspire, sweet and swamp azaleas, white spruce, and black gum.
Many gardeners consider bush cinquefoil (Cinquefoil potentilla) a staple for the garden because it blooms from early summer to fall. Its added bonus, though, is that it tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, from wet to dry.
Drought-tolerant plants include yarrow (shown here), black-eyed Susan, gaura, butterfly weed, aster, salvia, sedum, coreopsis, coneflower, verbena, red hot poker, lamb's ear and Shasta daisy.
Some plants are true workhorses where summers are hot. The annual vinca has been referred to by Southern landscapers as the "60-mile-per-hour plant" because it provides a reliable burst of color that can be appreciated from the highway.
During the winter, plants are exposed to more cold when they're in a container than if they were in the ground. To be sure that a plant can handle being in an outdoor container all winter, choose varieties that are hardy to two full zones colder than yours.
For added cold protection in the winter, pack mulch around the sides of containers.
A heated greenhouse stretches the gardening season and protects tropical plants.
This row of conifers serves as an effective windbreak and helps create a microclimate in the garden.
Windbreaks — even small ones like this akebia growing over a fence — help create a "climate island" in your yard where temperatures tend to moderate.
A stone path cuts through a tapestry of green. Enjoy your garden, no matter what your climate may be.