Tuesday, August 20, 2019

7 Tips For Saving Water In Your Garden

Water sprinkler

During the hot, sometimes dry days of summer, the realization hits – often in the form of a water bill – that we should be cutting back on water use. But how? We check for dripping faucets, toilets that keep running, avoid washing the car, reducing time in the shower, or putting less water in the bath. Those are good things to do, but perhaps the answer is in our own backyards. Yes, and front yards, too. If we maintain any type of lawn or garden, we probably use more water there than anywhere else in the house.

Some solutions to problems may be immediate. Many require planning. Act now while your last water bill is fresh on your mind, and you’re sufficiently motivated.

Here are 7 tips for saving water in your garden.

  1. Water less frequently. “Well, duh!”, you might say. Fact is, though, most lawns, gardens and ornamental plants do not need to be watered every day. Instead of watering every day, water every other day. That could cut your outdoor water use in half. Allowing the soil to drain and feel dry to the touch before watering again is usually better for your plants, too. Mildew and root rot are usually associated with over-watering, so watering less may help to avoid plant diseases. Lawn grasses can undergo some drought stress, and still bounce back when rain returns. You can follow this tip today; it requires no planning.
  2. Recycle water. If you use a sprinkler system, place containers strategically to catch some of it for reuse. Collect rain water in rain barrels to siphon off or dip into later. There’s no sense in letting free water go to waste.
  3. Plant a rain garden. Rather than let perfectly good water run into drains, divert it into a rain garden specially designed as a basin to retain it. Best plant choices should include those that adapt to bogs, but will also tolerate brief dry periods.
  4. Mulch around your plants. This will immediately reduce soil exposure to the drying rays of sun. Mulch choices are many. Bark, wood chips, straw, hay, and grass clippings are popular. Select the one that looks best for your application. Neither does this require planning. Start today. FYI, Ruth Stout was a major influence in the organic gardening movement who taught the benefits of mulch. If you’ve never read her books and articles, you should.
  5. Garden in raised beds or containers. By doing so, you will irrigate targeted areas rather than broadly, potentially saving water. There’s no need to water between vegetable rows and on paved drives and walkways.
  6. Install drip irrigation. This is especially appropriate for raised beds and container gardening. Containers, in particular, are prone to drying more quickly. Here again, drip irrigation targets specific areas. A simple system can be quite inexpensive when compared to what you’ll spend on watering. Drip irrigation systems make use of tiny plastic emitters which dispense small amounts of water right where you need it most. An emitter might release as little as ½ gallon per hour, maybe 1 or 2 gallons per hour. PER HOUR! The savings is significant.
  7. Substitute drought-tolerant plants for the water-hungry species in your landscape. This doesn’t mean you are limited to cacti and succulents. A host of trees, shrubs, drought-tolerant perennials and ground covers are available for your garden. Look for them.

Speaking of ground covers, many are awesome substitutes for water-hungry lawn grasses. Mondo and liriope, low-growing junipers and euonymus are a few. Some tolerate foot traffic; some don’t. Few lend themselves to heavy use, such as games of badminton and foot races. But if you want to cover larger areas with something other than grass, and save water, consider ground cover plants.

Follow these simple tips for saving water in your garden. You'll save money, too!

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