Gardening for Dummies in UAE: A Beginner's Guide

The UAE may be known for its desert landscapes, but that doesn't mean you can't create an oasis of greenery right at your home. Whether you've a tiny balcony, a backyard, or just a windowsill - we're pretty sure you can do it, as long as you follow the right guide. 

So, in order to offer our help, we’ve talked to some of the best services who offer flower delivery in UAE and provided their valuable insights in this guide. Hopefully, it’ll be helpful for you.

Challenges of Gardening in UAE

Gardening in the UAE, especially in the mid-eastern section of the country, can be difficult. Yes, the weather is definitely a factor here; but it’s not the only issue that’s plaguing the nation. There are a few other challenges that you might encounter while gardening at your own house. 

Here’s what you need to know about them - 

1: Extreme Heat

The UAE experiences scorching temperatures during the summer months, with daytime highs often exceeding 40°C (104°F). Prolonged exposure to such heat can stress and damage many plants, leading to wilting, leaf burn, and reduced overall growth.

Solution: Choose heat-tolerant plants adapted to desert conditions. Provide shade for delicate plants during the hottest parts of the day, and water early in the morning or late in the evening to reduce heat stress.

2: Limited Water Resources

Water scarcity is a significant issue in the UAE, and excessive watering can strain already limited resources. The dry desert climate means that water evaporates quickly, making it challenging to maintain adequate soil moisture.

Solution: Implement efficient watering practices, such as drip irrigation or soaker hoses, to minimize water wastage. Use mulch to retain soil moisture and reduce evaporation. Collect rainwater if local regulations permit it.

3: Salinity and Poor Soil Quality

Many areas in the UAE have soil with high salinity levels and poor nutrient content. This can be detrimental to plant health and growth.

Solution: Amend the soil with organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure to improve its structure and fertility. Container gardening with imported soil or raised beds filled with suitable soil mixtures can also help circumvent soil issues.

4: Sandstorms

Dust and sandstorms are not uncommon in the UAE, especially during the windy season. These storms can damage plants, erode soil, and deposit dust on foliage, hindering photosynthesis.

Solution: Protect your garden during sandstorms by covering delicate plants or bringing potted plants indoors. Creating windbreaks with tall plants or garden structures can also help reduce the impact of strong winds.

5: Pest and Disease Challenges

Despite the harsh climate, pests and diseases can still affect plants in the UAE. Common garden pests like aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites can be problematic.

Solution: Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests and diseases, and take prompt action to address issues. Use natural remedies when possible to minimize the use of chemical pesticides.

6: Seasonal Variations

While winters in the UAE are generally mild, some plants may struggle to survive during the cooler months, especially if they are not adapted to lower temperatures.

Solution: Select plants that are suitable for both the summer and winter seasons. Be prepared to provide additional protection, such as frost cloth or fleece, during unusually cold spells.

7: Local Regulations

Depending on your location within the UAE, there may be specific regulations and restrictions related to gardening practices, water usage, and plant selection. It's essential to be aware of and adhere to these rules.

Solution: Research local regulations and seek guidance from local gardening experts or authorities to ensure your garden complies with all requirements.

8: High Evaporation Rates

Due to the low humidity levels in the UAE, water applied to the soil can evaporate rapidly, making it challenging to maintain consistent soil moisture.

Solution: Use efficient watering methods like drip irrigation to minimize water loss through evaporation. Apply a thick layer of mulch to slow down evaporation and protect the soil's moisture content.

9: Limited Space

Many residents in the UAE live in apartments or homes with limited outdoor space, making it challenging to create a traditional garden.

Solution: Embrace vertical gardening, balcony gardening, and container gardening to make the most of your available space. Utilize hanging baskets, wall-mounted planters, and creative solutions to maximize greenery in small areas.

10: Cost of Maintaining a Garden

In the UAE, gardening can be relatively expensive due to the cost of water, soil amendments, and plant materials. This can deter some individuals from pursuing their gardening aspirations.

Solution: Plan your garden thoughtfully, prioritize water-efficient plants, and consider propagating plants from cuttings or seeds to reduce costs. Over time, investing in drought-resistant and heat-tolerant plants can save money on water bills.

How to Start Gardening Like a Pro?

In this section, we’ll talk about how you need to begin gardening like a professional. So, let’s not make any further ado, let’s get started with it. 

1: Know Your Climate

First things first, understanding the climate in the UAE is crucial for successful gardening. 

The country predominantly experiences a desert climate with high temperatures and low rainfall. Summers can be scorching, with temperatures soaring well above 40°C (104°F). Winters are milder but still warm, with daytime temperatures averaging around 20-25°C (68-77°F).

What does this mean for your garden? Well, you'll need to choose plants that can thrive in hot and arid conditions. Drought-tolerant, heat-loving species are your best friends here. Some great options include succulents, cacti, bougainvillea, and desert roses.

2: Selecting the Right Plants

Now that you understand the climate, let's talk about plant selection. The UAE's diverse landscapes provide opportunities for various types of gardening. Here are a few options:

  1. Desert Plants: As mentioned earlier, desert plants like cacti and succulents are ideal choices. They require minimal water and can handle the intense heat.
  2. Ornamental Plants: If you want to add a touch of elegance to your garden, consider ornamental plants like bougainvillea, hibiscus, and frangipani. These colorful beauties can thrive with some care and attention.
  3. Herbs and Vegetables: Growing your own herbs and vegetables can be rewarding and cost-effective. Herbs like basil, mint, and rosemary, as well as veggies like tomatoes and peppers, can do well in the UAE's climate.
  4. Indoor Plants: If you have limited outdoor space, don't worry! Many indoor plants, such as snake plants, pothos, and spider plants, can thrive in pots and bring greenery to your living spaces.
3: Soil and Potting Mixes

The type of soil you use can make or break your gardening endeavors. UAE's natural soil is often sandy and lacks nutrients, making it less suitable for most plants. 

To overcome this challenge, invest in good-quality potting mixes. These mixes are specially formulated to provide the right balance of nutrients, drainage, and aeration.

When potting your plants, ensure that the pots have drainage holes. This prevents waterlogging, a common issue in desert gardening. Be sure to use pots of an appropriate size, as larger pots retain moisture better than smaller ones.

4: Watering Wisely

Water is a precious resource in the UAE, so it's essential to use it wisely in your garden. Here are some tips for efficient watering:

  1. Water Early or Late: The best times to water your plants are early in the morning or late in the evening-time when the environment is cooler. It, in turn, reduces water evaporation and allows the plants to absorb moisture effectively.
  2. Deep Watering: Instead of frequent shallow watering, give your plants a good, deep soak. This encourages deeper root growth and better drought resistance.
  3. Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around your plants to help retain moisture within the soil and reduce evaporation. You can make mulch from organic materials like straw or compost.
  4. Drip Irrigation: Consider installing a drip irrigation system, which delivers water directly to the base of the plants. This method is highly efficient and conserves water.
  5. Rainwater Harvesting: If local regulations allow, consider setting up a rainwater harvesting system to collect and store rainwater for your garden.
5: Fertilizing

Plants need nutrients to grow and thrive. In the UAE's conditions, it's essential to provide the right nutrients to your plants, as the natural soil may lack them. Here's what you need to know about fertilizing:

  1. Slow-Release Fertilizers: Opt for slow-release fertilizers that gradually provide nutrients to your plants over an extended period. This helps avoid over-fertilization and nutrient leaching.
  2. Organic Fertilizers: Consider using organic fertilizers like compost or well-rotted manure. They not only nourish your plants but also improve soil structure.
  3. Follow Recommendations: Always follow the recommended dosage on the fertilizer packaging. Over-fertilization can harm your plants.
  4. Feeding Schedule: Develop a feeding schedule based on the type of plants you're growing. Some plants may need more frequent fertilization than others.
6: Dealing with Pests and Diseases

No garden is immune to pests and diseases, and the UAE is no exception. However, with some vigilance and care, you can keep these issues under control:

  1. Regular Inspection: Make it a habit to regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests or diseases. Early detection can prevent widespread infestations.
  2. Natural Remedies: Consider using natural remedies like neem oil or a mixture of water and mild soap to deter common garden pests. These solutions are less harmful to the environment.
  3. Quarantine New Plants: If you bring new plants into your garden, quarantine them for a while to ensure they aren't carrying any pests or diseases that could spread to your existing plants.
  4. Pruning: Pruning infected or diseased parts of plants can help contain the issue and promote healthy growth.
  5. Consult Experts: If you're unsure about how to deal with a specific pest or disease, don't hesitate to consult local gardening experts or nurseries for advice.
7: Garden Design and Layout

Now that you have a handle on the essentials, it's time to get creative with your garden design. Here are some design tips to consider:

  1. Create Zones: Divide your garden into functional zones, such as a relaxation area, a vegetable patch, and a flowerbed. This adds structure and purpose to your garden.
  2. Use Vertical Space: In smaller gardens or balconies, maximize your space by using vertical planters, trellises, or hanging baskets.
  3. Add Decorative Elements: Incorporate decorative elements like garden sculptures, colorful pots, and outdoor lighting to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden.
  4. Pathways and Pavers: Consider adding pathways or pavers to make it easier to navigate your garden. This also helps protect your plants from trampling.
  5. Plan for Shade: With the scorching UAE sun, having some shaded areas in your garden is essential. You can use pergolas, umbrellas, or strategically placed tall plants to create shade.
8: Maintenance and Care

Gardening is an ongoing endeavor that requires regular maintenance. Here's a checklist to help you keep your garden in top shape:

  1. Pruning and Deadheading: Trim overgrown branches and remove dead flowers to encourage new growth.
  2. Weeding: Keep your garden free of weeds, as they compete with your plants for nutrients and water.
  3. Repotting: As your plants grow, they may outgrow their pots. Repot them into larger containers as needed.
  4. Mulch Renewal: Replenish the mulch around your plants as it breaks down over time.
  5. Pest and Disease Control: Continue to monitor for pests and diseases and take appropriate action if necessary.
  6. Seasonal Maintenance: Different seasons may require different care routines. Adjust your gardening tasks accordingly.
9: Join Gardening Communities

Gardening can be a solitary hobby, but it doesn't have to be. Consider joining local gardening clubs or online communities where you can exchange tips, ideas, and even swap plants. Learning from experienced gardeners can be invaluable for beginners.

It’s Not What You Do, It’s How You Do It


You've just completed your crash course in gardening for dummies in the UAE. Remember, gardening is a journey, and it's okay to make mistakes along the way. 

The key is to stay curious, learn from your experiences, and enjoy the process of nurturing your little patch of green paradise in the heart of the desert.

So, go ahead and plant those seeds, water those succulents, and watch your garden thrive. Happy gardening, UAE green thumbs!

Posted in Gardening on Sep 11, 2023