Wind, Clay, Drought Tolerant & Hardy?

Oklahoma City, OK

I'd really like to plant the area around a brick mailbox (either side & behind). I live in SE Oklahoma City on an acreage (this spot is about 250' from our house) and we are in a severe drought. We experience temperatures over 100 every Summer and ice storms every couple of Winters (you have to be crazy to garden in OK!) To top it all, this patch has poor, slow-draining clay and its so windy and any attempts to improve the soil gets blown away.

What on earth can I plant here? I thought about starting with a few clumps of indigenous grasses around the side the wind tends to hit first and/or try to establsh a few patches of groundcover to help keep moisure in and weeds out then maybe add more interest once they are established. I'd love to add some black eyed susan & purple cone flowers at some point (tried last year & failed).

Help!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Hi. Here is a list of drought and wind tolerant plants, but pleased be advised, anything you plant will require regular water until it is established and growing. Even drought tolerant plants will burn up and die without additional water during their first season.

http://www.birdsandblooms.com/Gardening/Top-10/Challenges-of-Gardens/Top-10-Drought-Tolerant-Plants/

Oklahoma City, OK

Thanks! I'll put some of those plants on my list - some say they need soil that drains well and I guess that's typical for a lot of drought tolerant plants. We don't have that here - even my best patches of soil holds water for days (well it would if we got any precipitation!)

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

I would suggest adding some compost/humus to the soil and mounding the bed up a few inches. That should aid drainage. Also, when the bed is complete I would add mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and deter weeds.

Oklahoma City, OK

I need a way to keep mulch on there - I have two good compost heaps and tried digging some in as well as adding mulch - even though I watered almost every day, it blew away. When its windy and hot it dries out so quickly. That's why I'm wondering if I should try to grow some kind of shelter that would break up that wind. I guess I need ideas for what will grow that will shield this area so I can get some mulch to stay & have more choice of plants later?

Its great to get ideas here - even a way to think outloud. I had shoulder surgery a couple weeks ago so all I can do is plan for now (lots of browsing online nurseries!)

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

If you can't decide on a shielding plant, perhaps a couple mid-sized and smaller boulders with low growing drought tolerant plants tucked in among them?

Oklahoma City, OK

I'm researching suppliers of native grasses and think I'll try to get a semi-circle shaped band of two types of grasses that form clumps or bunches and hopefully provide some Fall colour. I'm thinking that would be a good shield against the wind and once established, they should hold up well in a drought. I've noticed many for my area require full sun which certainly isn't a problem out there.

We just got at least 2" of snow - here's hoping we keep getting good precipitation like this so I needn't feel guilty watering new plants through their first Summer.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

That sounds like a solid plan. Most grasses only require a quick cut back in Spring to maintain them. It sounds like you have plenty of space to let them grow and do well.This link has a nice collection of natives that may work for you. If you scroll down you will find a list of grasses that may be of interest.

http://www.plantnative.org/rpl-arla.htm

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Some sort of mesh over the soil and mulch can help hold it in place. Look into jute netting, weed mat, burlap and similar products. They can be held down with a 6" long pin that may also be used to hold down drip irrigation tubing.

I like the idea of using boulders as part of the landscape. You can expand that and stack the rocks some, too, then tuck the plants into the less windy side, and into the joints between the rocks.

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