With drought warnings and water restrictions popping up across the United States, it definitely makes sense to irrigate your garden wisely. Follow these tips for water-wise gardening and be kind to your environment, community and wallet!
1. Water early
The best time to irrigate the garden is in the early hours of the day. The weather tends to be cooler then, and the water evaporation risk is lower. Your plants also have the entire day to dry out, which helps reduce fungal diseases too. The second best time to water is later in the day, when the sun is lower in the sky. The worst time is around noon, particularly on a hot, sunny day.
2. Water right
Consider using soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system to direct the water to the plants’ roots, where it is needed. If you must use an overhead watering system, like a sprinkler, irrigate early in the morning so the plants can dry during the day. You can set containers up to a drip system, which are run on a timer. But keep an eye on timers. You don’t want to be watering accidentally during a rain storm.
3. Harvest rainwater
Rain barrels save an amazing amount of water when hooked up properly to your house gutter. Just one inch of rain on a 1,000-square-foot roof can lead to approximately 600 gallons of harvestable rainwater, according to Fiskars website. The best part is the water is FREE, and you’re preventing this precious resource from being wasted. Around here, we have two rain barrels collecting every drop.
For more information, see our post on how to harvest rainwater.
One of the best ways to save water in the garden is to mulch your beds with a couple inches of fine wood chips or compost. Mulching also reduces weeds, adds organic materials to the soil over time and helps mitigate plant diseases. Always keep mulch a few inches from your plant stems to prevent root rot or pest damage. Buying mulch in bulk, versus via bags, will save you money.
5. Drought-tolerant plants
You’d be surprised how many plants can survive with less water when you irrigate a mulched garden correctly. Many of the Mediterranean herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and sage, are drought-tolerant and delicious. Succulents are another excellent water-wise choice, and some do well in colder climates, such as Hens and Chicks. Keep in mind, however, that even drought-tolerant plants need regular water when they are getting established.
For more information, see our tips for creating a drought-tolerant garden.
6. Ditch the lawn
Often that lush, green turf in the front yard is the No. 1 area in your garden demanding water. Grass also requires a lot of nitrogen-rich fertilization; not to mention, hours of mowing and edging each week. So, why not consider removing that high-maintenance grass and replacing it with visually interesting, low-water grasses, ground covers, perennials or shrubs? There are lots of good drought-tolerant options for replacements.
Want more help?
Here are a few more water-wise gardening resources you might find helpful.
- Learn four ways to remove sod from Fine Gardening Magazine.
- See a water-wise garden in Santa Barbara, California.
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