As we bid farewell to spring and happily greet warmer temperatures and fewer showers, we’ll need to start paying closer attention to our gardens. Gardens will soon sprout fresh vegetables in backyards and fresh flowers will bloom in front yards, adding lots of curbside appeal. But, to achieve delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers, there will be plenty of mulching, weeding and watering in the forecast. Your gardening is about to, well, get going with these 12 water-savings tips!
Whether you live in drought-plagued regions like California or want to reduce your reliance on natural resources, there are many options available to help maximize your gardens output, in terms of both deliciousness and beauty, and quantity.
Below are some helpful water saving gardening tips to keep your green spaces vibrant and your city or town’s water levels high.
- Limit grass – Replace nonessential turf with ground covers, mulches, decks and walkways to limit the amount of area needing attention. Having your own green space is great but, if not maintained, it can quickly become unsightly. But, beauty does come at a price – upkeep of lawns and gardens require plenty of attention in both money and hands-on time.
- Consider garden size – Plant an appropriate size garden for your household. Be realistic about how large an area you can tend to and ensure none of the product yielded from your endeavor goes to waste. Food waste is a whole other issue the world is currently contending with.
- Shorter season – Consider planting shorter season crops and drought resistant varieties that require less long-term care and don’t depend as heavily on water. If you are new to gardening, this may be a great way to learn without having to commit for a whole season.
- Irrigate – Install a water-efficient drip irrigation system. If you plant on a slope or build trenches only a subset of your garden will require watering. The run-off from watered plants and vegetables will then flow to the remaining sections of your plot requiring less need for water to maintain your garden.
- Water collection – Many municipalities offer rain catcher buckets for free which is a great way to save water. Water gathered in these large containers can help water your lawn, garden or any other vegetation without requiring the use of additional resources. Rain barrels are an especially important resource for areas susceptible to prolonged or recurring drought periods where there could be limits on water use.
- Know your vegetation – If you know you need to transplant plants from smaller pots to larger ones in a few weeks or have a schedule of other critical watering periods you can plan ahead and ensure you’ll have access to the adequate amount of water. You can rely on your rain barrel for estimating water supply.
- Apply mulch – Placing a layer of mulch on the soil surface around plants can save hundreds of gallons of water each year. Mulch prevents water evaporation and also stops weeds from growing requiring less need for water.
- Weed often – Weeding is an important step in gardening. Removing weeds not only makes your garden look more aesthetically pleasing but it is also less likely to kill off other plants around it. Most importantly, when weeds are removed there is a reduced need for water. The end result? Fewer things are now competing for water resources than before!
- Limit fertilization – While some fertilizer is okay, do not overuse it. Yes, it can promote growth which may be exactly what you want, but it can also make things unwieldy. Accelerated growth requires additional water and can yield more weeds – putting more stain on natural resources and more work for you.
- Use compost – To complement the use of fertilizers or better yet in place of, consider using compost. This method can add both moisture and nutrients which can produce higher yields, but through a more organize process.
- Water efficiently – If you do need to tap into natural resources and break out the water hose or turn your sprinklers on, consider these next three things before turning the spigot.
- Timing – Water at night or early in the morning, ideally between 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.. Watering at these times reduces evaporation and the wind will not be strong enough to interfere with sprinkler patterns. This will lessen the likelihood of water waste and potentially reduce plant disease and water damage.
- Seasonal watering – Just as we might rotate our wardrobes with the impending season, watering frequency needs to change with the seasons. Make sure to adjust your automatic system at least three times a year. Your highest frequency will be July-October. Lowest will be November-March, with April-June somewhere in between. During periods of rain, make sure to turn automatic systems off entirely.
- Water quantity & frequency – If you water deeper you can reduce the frequency of the watering. As an example — try watering three times a week using more water (instead of watering every day). This results in less evaporation, water will be further down where roots can continue to access the water, and result in significant water savings which can be realized in short period of time.
- Mowing – Mow lawns higher during very warm weather. This not only saves you time by not needing to mow as often but it helps to reduce the rate at which the grass continues to grow further reducing your mowing frequency. Higher grass also provides a shade protecting the lawn from sunburn and decreased weed growth promoting deeper root growth.
While both gardening and lawn mowing can be therapeutic and provide great outlets for stress, it is also important for everyone to do their part and help minimize water use. If you are just starting out and new to the gardening, try to incorporate many, if not all, of these water saving tips to get you on the right path. If you have been gardening for a while and already do many of these things, see if you can integrate more to save you time and money and to help the environment.
Feature image credit: Alinute Silzeviciute / Shutterstock