Conserving water in the garden can make the difference between a successful planting season vs. a poor one. It will also save you a good deal of money on your water bill, not to mention being good for the environment.
Tips for Conserving Water in the Garden
Consider Water Usage When Designing the Garden
Sectioning out the garden according to water needs, is not only a smart way to reduce waste, but makes other garden maintenance easier as well. Choosing plants for your design which are either native to your area or have low water needs is also helpful. Many herbs and perennials tend to be easier care and require less watering than annual plants.
When installing walkways and other breaks in the garden, keep in mind that hardscaped areas (ie. pavers, gravel), will not compete with your garden plants for resources, as a lawn area will.
If adding a tree or large shrub makes sense in your garden plans, then you really should consider adding one. The shade they provide will help reduce evaporation. Of course, keep in mind the sun needs of the types of plants you want to grow, before adding a shade element.
Retain the Moisture in Your Garden
One of your best friends in combating evaporation is a thick layer of mulch. It will also help keep weeds at bay, who compete with your plants for precious resources. While mulching with biodegradable materials such is wood chips is common, living mulches, like moss or low growing ground covers work wonderfully as well. I’ve had excellent success with moss in a semi-shaded garden on my property.
Including plenty of organic matter in your garden soil is another great way to retain moisture. This can be done with compost, or you can add purchased water retaining granules.
How and When to Water
Water from the soil line, rather than spraying from above. This gets all the water where the roots are, and reduces evaporation. Watering slowly, deeply and with less frequency is the best way to build drought tolerance. Plants will have deeper roots and be hardier overall. Mornings and early evenings are the best time to water your garden. Watering during the heat of midday will increase both evaporation and leaf burn. Evening watering is my preferred time to water. It gives plenty of time for the water to seep in and be absorbed during the cooler hours of the night. You may also want to consider installing a few rain barrels to catch water from your gutters. Some are actually quite attractive.
These simple tips should help you reduce your gardens overall water requirements. Best of luck with your gardening adventures this season.