Homeowners want beautiful lawns and gardens. However, there is a global water shortage. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, although the earth is 71 percent water, only one percent of this is accessible for consumption. This means that the entire world depends on this one percent for drinking, cooking, bathing, and agriculture.
With droughts in some areas, it’s a challenge to maintain a lush garden. People who are environmentally conscious know it’s essential to conserve water. They understand that saving water in the yard and garden is just as important as saving water in the kitchen or bathroom. With water conservation in the garden, you can do your part to help save this natural resource. For more efficient use of water whenever and wherever possible, homeowners can follow the below water saving tips, and still maintain a lush yard and garden.
How to Save Water in the Garden
Here are 13 ways to conserve water in your garden.
1) Avoid Thirsty Plants
One important way to conserve water is to avoid water-needy plants. Plants to avoid include tropical plants and exotic plants such as hibiscus and banana. You should also avoid annuals. Annuals are flowers that bloom and die in one year, such as impatiens. Annuals usually require a lot more water than perennials, flowers that grow year after year. Most grasses that yield an emerald green lawn are also very thirsty.
2) Use Native Plants
By using native plants in your garden, you reduce the amount of water needed. Plants that are indigenous or grow naturally in your region thrive year-round with minimal watering. Native plants often don’t need any additional water beyond what the local rainfall provides.
3) Use Xeriscape Techniques
Xeriscape is a water-saving gardening technique. It is used mostly in arid regions, but it can be used anywhere to save water. With xeriscape, the landscape thrives with little or no additional watering. The principle behind xeriscape is to plant drought-resistant plants. Plants that need less water to grow include cornflowers, black-eyed susans, palms, lavender, pansies, baby’s breath, rosemary, verbena, and mimosa. Other plants that need little water include succulents, such as yucca and agave, and shrubs, like evergreen and lilac bushes.
4) Recycle Water from Kitchen and Bathroom
You use a lot of water in your home that can be recycled. By collecting this second-hand water, you can then use it to water your garden. Below are a few examples of how to recycle water.
- place a bucket in your shower to collect the water as it heats up and as you shower.
- use the water from hand washing dishes.
- re-use water from drinking glasses.
- use water from boiling pasta or cooking vegetable after it cools.
- use old fish tank water.
- use your bath water.
- use grey water diverters that take bath water and send it your irrigation system.
Note – body soaps and dish washing detergents are usually harmless to plants.
5) Harvest Rainwater
Collecting or harvesting rain is a great way to get a steady supply of water for your garden. Rain barrels are the most common way to collect rain. You can buy rain barrels in various sizes and sizes online and from gardening supply centers. You can also use the collected rain water to clean your car, outdoor furniture, patio, deck or driveway. There are a few ways to harvest water.
- connect a rain barrel to a gutter or drainpipe to collect the rain from the roof.
- place rain barrels in your garden to collect and store the rain as it falls.
6) Water at the Best Times
You can also conserve water by choosing the best times to water your garden. Late evening is often the best time because it’s cooler. This makes it possible for the plants to absorb more water. In cooler temperature the water evaporates at a slower rate. Very early in the morning, while it’s still cool, such as before 9 am, is also a good time to water the garden.
7) Know the Type of Soil You Have
The soil type of your garden determines how much water you will need. Light sandy soils need more water than clay soils or other heavy soils.
You need to water clay soils, but you can also water less often.
8) Use the Appropriate Amount of Water
Many homeowners over-water their yards and gardens. This wastes water. In general, the best way to keep plants growing is to provide about five gallons of water for every 10 sq ft every seven to 10 days. The best way to determine if your plants need water is to check the soil. Look at the soil several inches below the surface. If the soil is damp, you don’t need to water. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water the plants. This technique doesn’t work if you have clay soil or sandy soil. With these two types of soil, you need to look at the plant itself to see if you need to water it or not.
Look at the leaves and see if they have changed position or have gotten darker in color. If they have, it’s time to water the plants. When the leaves change position and/or color, examine the look and feel of the soil so you will learn the signs when the plants need water. It’s also important to water plants before a drought begins to keep them in good condition.
9) Deep Water the Plants
Although you need to water plants when they are thirsty, the best way to do this is by deep watering. Deep watering involves soaking the roots of plants with water. This is better for plants than doing a light watering each day. A deep watering improves root growth. This method also conserves more water than lightly watering the entire yard or garden. In most cases, you will need to water the plants every few days.
10) Keep Weeds to a Minimum
It’s important to get rid of weeds. Too many weeds will absorb the water, moisture, and nutrients that the plants need to grow.
11) Use Intensive Gardening
Intensive gardening design is a method that helps to create a low-water garden. With intensive gardening, you plant flowers, herbs and vegetables closely together. This reduces the amount of water you need for an area. Although the plants are closely spaced, you still need to provide room for root development of each plant.
12) Use Ground Cover Plants
Ground cover offers a way to keep your yard and garden cooler. Ground cover plants also protect the topsoil. With cooler temperatures, the water won’t evaporate as quickly. There are ground cover plants and shade trees you can add to your garden to lower the overall temperature. A few examples of ground cover plants are thyme and sweet woodruff.
13) Use Mulch in the Garden
Mulching is a technique that maintains soil moisture. With regular mulching you can prevent evaporation and reduce moisture loss during dry periods. Mulch also provides needed nutrients for the plants and trees. A layer of mulch on flower beds, vegetable patches, and around the base of trees and shrubs will help keep the soil underneath damp.
Gardening enthusiasts can still grow plants, flowers, and vegetables in their yards despite the scarcity of drinkable water. However, a responsible gardener finds ways to reduce their water usage in the garden, but still give the plants the water they need to grow. By making these changes, you can grow healthy and strong plants without wasting a precious resource. It takes commitment, but it’s possible to help the planet, while still enjoying a thriving garden.
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