Growing plants in the Desert – Gardens in KAUST.

Each of the houses here (aside from the apartments) have a small front garden, and a larger back garden. KAUST gardeners will look after the front garden for you – basic weeding, cutting the lawn etc to keep it neat, however the back garden is the renters responsibility. You can either look after the garden yourself – or you can book in the landscape team to come and cut your lawn, tidy the borders and weed / gather fallen leaves and so on. This costs the same as a housekeeper – 19 SAR per person, per hour (about 3.75 – 4.00 British pounds). If, like us, you don’t have a lawnmower this service is a lifesaver, but having said that – I do really enjoy gardening so I also take the opportunity to do most of the work myself. Also – this should go without saying but; tip your gardener, 19 SAR an hour is not a lot of money.

The gardening team are really friendly. In fact this morning I had a gentleman knock on the door to tell me the front side (garden) was finished and would I like him to ‘clean out my backside’. He then told Paul that he would take the leaves out of his backside. Would we like him to come back later to look at our backside? The non-stop hilarity of being lost in translation.

There is a fantastic plant nursery on site, near to one of the security gates leading out of KAUST that offers a huge selection of both indoor and outdoor plants. For a small fee the fellow at the nursery will deliver your plants as well as plant them out for you. Again this is great as he is very knowledgable at knowing where the plants will thrive best. I can guarantee most of these plants will be dead in a week or two (everything I touch dies – it’s like the Midas touch, just a little more macabre) but hopefully his expertise may extend their shelf life slightly. I said I enjoyed gardening- I did not say I was good at it.

Down the sides of the houses are two ‘trenches’ which are more sheltered from the sun, and so a lot of people actually use these to grow vegetables. The trenches are fairly narrow but they do stretch the whole length of the house so I imagine if you utilized both sides you could cultivate a decent amount without digging into the back garden. Most of the back gardens take a LOT of sun during the day so I imagine (again – no expert here) you would have to choose very carefully which vegetables to grow here, if any. We have herbs planted in our borders alongside the KAUST standard flowering bushes – not sure that is their official name but I don’t know what they are. We also have a couple of trees and some ferns.

There is an irrigation system running around both the back and front gardens with both sprinklers, and a ‘drip’ system in use to water the plants. There is also an outdoor tap for a hosepipe should you require it for your garden. Or for bathing your dog after she has rolled in her own excrement as I found out recently. Hey, happens to us all.

KAUST run monthly best looking garden competitions as well if you are the competitive type, and honestly some of the gardens around here are spectacular. We are looking forward to stringing up solar powered lights in our trees and buying a hammock from somewhere to really make the most of relaxing in the garden on a warm summer evening.

I will post some garden pictures shortly and as always please comment and let me know if there is anything in particular you would like me to post about!

Please follow my Instagram @livinginarabia for pictures of KAUST and my trips off campus 🙂

2 thoughts on “Growing plants in the Desert – Gardens in KAUST.

    1. All the houses have automatic irrigation systems that water the plants twice a day and to be honest I’m not sure that you can turn them off. But I applaud your Eco friendliness! We have many aloe Vera plants on site which don’t take much water at all (and also look really cool!). Banana trees, frangipani and hibiscus are all very popular and easy to grow as well


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