Today, it’s never been more important to save water in gardens. With severe droughts in California and other parts of the United States, many communities are actually in danger of running out of water. We must rethink the way we irrigate our gardens. Here are five better ways to save water in gardens…
1) Grow Drought-Tolerant Plants
One great way to save water in gardens is to buy plants that thrive with less water.
It sounds simplistic. But you’d be amazed how many popular plants work well in low-water gardens once established, such as these lavender and jade plants. Many Mediterranean herbs – such as sage, rosemary and thyme – grow better in well-drained, drier soil too. You may even want to tear up your thirsty lawn and put in some of these low-water plants instead. No more mowing!
Here’s a list of low-water or drought-tolerant plants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Find plants for your state by using the EPA’s search feature.
2) Water Correctly
Rethink your irrigation practices to save water in gardens. For instance, drip irrigation systems or soaker hoses are much more water efficient than overhead watering. Plus, these systems help keep plant foliage dry, which helps reduce fungal diseases.
The best time to water is during the morning’s dew cycle, when there is less risk of evaporation. This timing also allows the plant foliage to dry before the end of the day.
3) Mulch, Mulch, Mulch
Save water in gardens by mulching the soil. Add several inches of fine wood chips, compost or shredded leaves to your soil. But leave a couple inches between the mulch and plant stem to reduce pests and pathogens.
Mulching not only helps you conserve water, it also reduces weeds and keeps soil temperatures cooler in summer. With plants like tomatoes and roses, mulch helps prevent overwintering disease spores from splashing up on the stems. Mulch can even improve your soil quality as it decomposes slowly over time, adding valuable organic matter.
4) Harvest Water
With water so precious these days, it definitely makes sense to harvest it. Rain barrels provide an easy way to harvest a large supply of water for your irrigation needs. In fact, an inch of rain on a thousand feet of roof surface can mean about 625 gallons of harvestable water. And these days, every single one of those gallons of water matters.
5) Be Aware
Yep, it’s fun to play with the hose on a hot day. But be aware of how much water you use each day, and make a pledge to conserve more water in your home and gardens.
Every man, woman and child in the United States uses about 100 gallons of water daily for bathing, cooking, washing our food, clothes and cars, and irrigating our landscapes, reports the EPA. About 40 percent of that water goes to outdoor activities, and much of it is wasted.
Don’t be one of the water wasters. Watch your sprinkler timers, so you don’t accidentally water your lawn during a rain storm. Sweep dirt off the porch; don’t wash it off. And make certain your sprinklers are watering the garden, not the sidewalk, driveway or street.
These five steps will help us all do a better job of saving water in gardens.
U.S. Drought Monitor, January 2014