After The Drought: Taking Care Of Your Outdoor Plants

Once the summer has passed, your garden may have suffered through severe drought.
Here’s how to help your outdoor plants cope.

Lawn | Bedding Plants | Roses
Trees & Shrubs | Vines | Mulching


The grass is probably going to be worst off, unless it’s mainly composed of clover (very resistant to drought).
Autumn rains will, however, quickly bring your lawn back to its green shape, as if nothing happened. So don’t worry too much about it.
Don’t add fertilizers until it has fully recovered and is back to normal. You can also rework the soil, to allow water to penetrate to the roots.

Bedding plants

bedding plants
With these seasonal plants, the results will vary greatly, and will be proportional to the care you’ve provided.
If you’ve progressively removed the faded flowers, the plants will be less exhausted. If you have watered them (despite restrictions), you may enjoy an autumn bloom.
Next year, don’t forget to add some mulch, even with rotating bedding plants.
If you weren’t able to water as much as you wanted to, get rid of tired bedding plants, and think forward to next spring. Prepare the soil. You’ll soon be able to have biennials and bulbs at will.


They usually resist well to drought, even if their flowering may not be spectacular.
Clean them of their faded flowers and useless fruits. Fold the tired tufts two-thirds in. They’ll perk better before the winter.
Remove leaves affected from diseases and those that have fallen to the ground. Burn them to get rid of their germs.
Remove the top layer of the soil around the plants to allow rain to penetrate. There’s no need at this time to add fertilizers.

Trees and shrubs

Some have suffered to the point of showing dry branches.
Proceed in stages. With shears, gradually tweak the twigs, at least until you find green wood. Systematically remove wrinkled branches and brittle wood.
If the remaining volume is at least a quarter of its original size, then chances are your plant will fully recover its shape by next year.
If there’s no rain, water them adequately. Don’t fertilize them until they have begun to revert back to their original form. Wait at least until the end of winter.


Faced with the heatwave, clematis will have suffered to the point of drying up in many cases. Don’t be devastated as they fear much more any excess of water. Do not tear them, but on the contrary, pamper them with regular watering.
This fall, bring to them a good nutritious, organic mulch (or compost). It’s possible they may not fully grow back until next June. This is their way of recovering, before being pushed even harder.
Wisteria have, meanwhile, spent the summer without a fight. Remember to shorten a bit their disheveled branches, if you want to enjoy next year with some abundant flowering.


Mulch is a valuable aid to any garden.Not only does it limit invasion of annual weeds, but it also maintains a strong, cool soil, avoiding evaporation.
Install it over a fresh and clean soil (never dry). Apply a substantial layer (about 3 inches thick) of grass clippings, peat, compost, gravel, etc.
Complete it annually, in late winter, to compensate for the natural decay of the elements. This will save you precious hours watering and weeding your garden.
For more information on mulching, check out our article on the subject.

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