Soils that are sandy or stony are described as ‘dry’ because water drains through them quickly. They are easy to cultivate and warm up quickly in spring.
Discover how to find out your soil type.
The downside is that plants can suffer from a lack of both water and food, because nutrients are soluble and soon get washed through. Improving the structure of the soil with organic matter such as well rotted manure or garden compost can help hugely with this.
The trick with dry soils is to choose drought-tolerant plants. You are also more likely to have success with borderline hardy, exotic plants, as they are more able to survive winter cold if they don’t have wet roots.
Here are some great plants for dry soils to try.
Trachelospermum jasminoides likes a sunny sheltered site in milder areas of the UK. This climber has highly scented, starry blooms in summer and autumn, and evergreen foliage.
Stipa gigantea is an elegant ornamental grass with tall, light-catching flowerheads that ripen to gold, providing interest through to spring. Plant it in sun or light shade.
Rosa rugosa is one of the few roses that likes light soil, even sand. Choose ‘Alba’ or ‘Rubra’ for large white or pink flowers followed by red hips. Plant in sun or part shade.
Lavandula offers aromatic foliage along with pretty summer flowers beloved by bees. Varieties such as ‘Hidcote’ are ideal as border edgings or low hedges in full sun.
A ground-covering perennial, Erigeron karvinskianus self-seeds freely into paving and walls. It’s covered in small pinky-white daisies from spring to autumn. It likes sun or part shade.
The fragrant summer blooms of Dianthus are usually pink, but varieties can range from white to red. These perennials are ideal for raised beds and rockeries in full sun.
Buddleja thrives in poor soil and has the added advantage of being extremely attractive to butterflies, hence its common name, the butterfly bush. Cut back hard every spring.
Add organic matter
Add plenty of organic matter such ashomemade compost, well-rotted manure or a soil improver – it will hold onto water and nutrients. Dig into a depth of 1-2 spades before planting and add more every spring.