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Skaggs: Plant this fall with drought in mind

POSTED: January 3, 2008 5:02 a.m.

With the ongoing drought and water restrictions, gardeners across North Georgia are wondering what, if anything, they can plant this fall.

Well, before addressing the question of "what," let’s address the question of "should you plant?"

Despite the drought, fall and winter are still considered the best time of year to plant trees and shrubs. The reasons are many, but the primary reason is fall and winter planting allows the newly installed ornamentals ample time to get established before the warm weather of spring and summer arrive.

As the plants are dormant or semi-dormant, they are not adding much new foliage or branch growth. The newly installed plants are putting all their energy into growing roots. In addition, trees and shrubs installed in late fall and winter simply do not need much water.

Woody ornamentals installed this time of year can survive on one watering per week. If you are only adding a few small trees or shrubs to your landscape, you can most certainly keep them watered with reuse water from inside the home. The used water from the bath tub, shower, kitchen sink or even the washing machine can be applied to your newly-installed plants. No garden hose necessary!

As for the question of what to plant, many lists of drought-tolerant plants are available on the Internet and in gardening magazines.

Also, many gardening experts recommend native plants as the solution to drought. Native plants are often hardy and adapted to our conditions. But do not think that native is synonymous with drought tolerant.

Below are a few of my favorite trees and shrubs (some native and some introduced) that are drought tolerant. By no means is this a complete list — simply my list.

Billy Skaggs is an agricultural agent and Hall County Extension Coordinator. Phone: 770-531-6988. Fax: 770-531-3994.



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