Gardeners making best of dry situation

Staff Intern

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett's current water restrictions have created an obstacle for area gardeners.

Because the water restrictions limit when gardeners can water their plants, plans for summer gardening have been affected.

Tim Many of Lilburn said he has had to quit gardening for the summer season.

"I just try to maintain what I already have," Many said.

Many also said he has been installing a pond in his garden, but he has had to put that project on hold because of the drought.

"I can't finish the pond because I can't really fill it up right now," Many said.

Leslie Peat of Suwanee is a relatively new gardener also facing problems because of the water restrictions.

Peat began gardening in March, before Gwinnett County was under its current water restrictions. Peat said he now has to take extra measures to make sure his plants are cared for.

"I get up at 4:30 a.m. to water my plants before I go to work," Peat said. "It's ridiculous."

Like Many and Peat, area gardeners are dealing with these same kinds of problems when it comes to caring for their plants and gardens.

However, some are finding creative ways to handle the problems caused by the water restrictions.

Wayne Wilson of Lawrenceville has found a way to always water his plants during the allotted times. But unlike other area gardeners, Wilson is not losing any sleep.

"I have a timer set to control my watering system," Wilson said. "My plants are watered while I am sleeping."

These water timers are usually priced at $50 or less and can be found at home-improvement stores.

Forsyth resident Virginia Vernon has another approach to caring for her plants.

When it comes to water, Vernon lets nothing go to waste.

"I've been using water from my pond," said Vernon, "And I use whatever water that is left over in the house."

Vernon has stopped adding new plants to her ground garden for the time being, but she has instead turned her attention to her aquatic pond garden. Aquatic plants don't require additional water, and they help maintain the cleanliness and oxygen quality of the pond.

"I'm a little afraid of putting anything in the ground right now," Vernon said. "So right now I'm buying new plants for my water garden."

Renee Beard of Lawrenceville said although she isn't planting anything new this summer, she already has a well-established yard thanks to a variety of perennials.

"I understand water is very important right now," Beard said. "These restrictions haven't ruined any of my plans for summer gardening."

To continue summer gardening, gardeners can also explore a wider variety of different plants that may adapt better to drier conditions.

The employees of Randy's Perennials and Water Gardens in Lawrenceville recommended plants such as lantana and oleander, both flowering shrubs that don't require as much water. They also recommended cacti and hearty palm plants for the current dry conditions.

Sean Miller, an employee of Randy's, suggested using pots of soil for plants.

"Potting soil increases the soil moisture," Miller said.

Miller also described a product called "Soil Moist," which can also help increase soil moisture and decrease the amount of water the plant needs.

Randy's employees said although they haven't advised anyone against gardening, they make sure people are aware of the amount of water a plant needs, and how that water can be hard to obtain during these periods of drought and current restrictions.