A well-designed and well-maintained ornamental garden can be a truly stunning addition to any residential or commercial property, but creating one of these peaceful green spaces can be very challenging in the driest parts of the country. Many of the most popular and attractive small trees have prodigious water requirements, and maintaining them in an arid environment can be difficult and expensive.
Fortunately, most wholesale plant nurseries and landscaping supplies stock a range of small ornamental trees that are prized for their low water requirements and resistance to droughts. If you are constructing an ornamental garden in a dry climate area and want to ensure it will survive future droughts, considering adding some or all of the following drought-resistant small tree species:
Swamp mallet (Eucalyptus spathulata)
This native Australian eucalyptus tree is prized by landscapers for its ability to survive just about anything, and this plant is a fine addition to any drought-resistant ornamental garden. They are exceptionally hardy when it comes to drought resistance, and can survive long periods with little to no water. These trees can also thrive in highly saline soil, and can even survive the occasional winter frost.
Although it generally does not grow higher than 10-12 feet tall, the swamp mallet does grow relatively quickly, so you can use saplings, safe in the knowledge that they will reach their full size in just a year or two. Once fully grown, swamp mallets produce unusual, attractive flowers and berries, and sprout dense foliage that can function as an effective windbreak.
Quince (Cydonia oblonga)
A small, deciduous tree closely related to apple and pear trees, the quince is a hardy and versatile shrub or small tree suitable for almost any ornamental garden. Well known for their ability to survive prolonged droughts, quinces also have very low maintenance requirements in general -- they rarely need to be pruned or fertilised and can fight off most diseases and insect invasions without help.
Quinces also have style as well as substance and produce large, pale pink blossoms. These blossoms grow larger the more sunlight the plant receives, so quinces are ideal for unshaded landscapes in very hot areas that would cause more fragile trees to wither and die. Once these blossoms die, they are replaced with large, edible fruits that can be used in a variety of recipes.
Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
A highly popular small tree hailing from the Indian sub-continent, the crepe myrtle is widely used by professional landscapers as a hardy and reliable ornament. It produces dense blossoms of multicoloured flowers that last throughout the summer, and occasionally into the early autumn months, giving your garden a splash of year-round colour.
Crepe myrtles are not quite as hardy as quinces or swamp mallets. They may require supplemental watering during particularly long droughts. However, they are adept at tolerating dry, nutrient-poor soils, and produce larger, more long-lasting flowers during particularly hot summers.
If you do decide to use crepe myrtles in your drought-resistant ornamental garden, make sure that the trees you procure are Lagerstroemia indica. Several other types of myrtle tree are often sold as crepe myrtles but are not nearly as resistant to dry, hot weather.
To learn more about dry climate plants, reach out to a local garden centre.