Nowadays, everyone is talking about lowering our footprint on the earth. Many are pointing out the limited resources we have, including fresh water. With droughts and uncertainty, a lot of gardeners are changing their lifestyles to match. What about your gardening techniques? Water is one of the most important resources for your garden and is becoming increasingly regulated by cities and counties nationally as it becomes scarce due to droughts.
Luckily, there are many techniques that can be used to lower the amount of water used in your garden without reducing the yields you expect or the beauty you want. Here are some of those techniques to help you reduce your water usage in your garden.
If you haven’t already been mulching your plants, do so now. Mulch helps to limit the amount of water that evaporates from the soil and organic mulches like clippings or wood chips ad organic matter and nutrients to the soil, giving an extra bonus to your plants. Plastic mulches can limit evaporation, but are not usually tillable, so consider the options besides the price tag. All mulches limit infiltration soil loss from erosion as well, so mulching is a great boon to the gardener.
Distribute Water Wisely
Most gardeners know that sprinklers and sprayers are not very efficient at distributing water the garden, though they enjoy widespread use. They are easy and cover large areas, though. Sprayed water, however, lands mostly on foliage (which does no good) while much of it evaporates into the air before ever even hitting the ground. Soaking techniques and tools, like soaker hoses, flood irrigation, drip systems, and similar methods, are much more efficient at distributing water in quantity. You’ll find that your overall water usage can be cut by 25% or more if you use these methods rather than sprinklers.
Water That Which Needs It Most
Focus your watering on plants that need it the most, such as newly-planted or transplanted seeds and plants. Plants with limited root systems or high humidity requirements should also get attention first. Most well-established plants (especially natives) will be able to withstand a drought. They still need water, of course, but you may be able to cut back on how much without seriously affecting their yield or beauty.
Water At The Right Time
Watering in the early morning or late evening cuts out much of the loss from evaporation as the heat of the day is not there to facilitate it. Early morning is best, as the night coolness still clings to the air. Morning watering also helps keep plants cool throughout the day.
Supplement Your Water
Collecting water from downspouts during rains is a great way to supplement the water you’re using in the garden. Plus it’s free! If you use chemical-free water to clean buckets, garden pots, wash your car , wash your dishes, etc., you can save the runoff to give it to your garden. When washing the car, position it so that most of the runoff water will go into your garden or onto your lawn. This way you do not have to buy any self watering planter for your garden.
These are a few ways you can deal with drought and help save precious freshwater sources while still tending and caring for your garden. Happy gardening!