Here are seven ways to save water in your garden.
If you don’t do anything else – do this. Wait until the soil has warmed up after the winter’s snow has melted (usually sometime in early June), then either wait for a heavy rain to soak the soil or use your sprinkler to thoroughly wet the ground. Now add at least two inches of shredded mulch to the soil. Adding a layer of wet newspaper beneath the mulch will deter weeds and feed the earthworms as the paper degrades. Make sure the mulch does not touch delicate stems and trunks. The mulch will conserve the moisture, making sure thirsty roots are quenched during the hot summer. In addition, it will keep the earth cool. Mulch also prevents runoff from rainwater and helps the water to sink down where it is needed.
Nurture the Soil
One of the best ways to conserve water is by looking after your soil. Sandy soil is so porous that rainwater will seep through it immediately, even after heavy rains. Adding organic matter such as compost, manure or leaf mould will help the water remain where it is needed. Clay soil is heavy, thick and glutinous. Once it absorbs water, it becomes soggy but when dry, clay soil will harden like a brick. Adding organic material will render clay soil into a fertile, crumbly texture that absorbs and retains the right amount of moisture that your plants will love.
Plant Native Species
Native, or indigenous plants and flowers, are better adapted to your local environment and can thrive where foreign ornamentals can’t. Hybrid tea roses are a common example. Plant roses such as the Explorer and Parkland varieties that are bred to survive the extremes of a Canadian climate i.e. the bitter cold of winter and the searing heat of summer. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), Goldenrod (Solidago) and Asters (Asteraceae) are common examples of native flora that are capable of existing without extra watering.
Rain barrels are often available from your local municipality for approximately $40. They can be connected to your home’s downspouts from which rainwater is collected. A hose connection allows you to use the collected rain to water plants. The advantage of this system is not only extra water at no charge, the water is free of chlorine, lime and calcium making it perfect for your plants.
Showering your shrubs and flowers with water is a sure-fire way of wasting water, since most of it runs off and vanishes down drains. Using a drip system will focus the water where needed – at the roots. Drip irrigation is so called, because the water is released slowly so none is wasted through evaporation. This system also discourages weeds from growing and fungi don’t get a chance to breed on leaves since the rest of the plant remains dry. No need to buy expensive systems. You can use a soaker hose that is connected to your outdoor faucet or purchase a seep hose which has miniscule holes that allow water to drip out gently.
Grey water is water that has already been used once in the house. Soaps and mild detergents are not harmful to plants so dishwashing water or liquids from boiling or steaming vegetables (once it is cooled down) can be used to water outdoor plants. Do not use water that has bleach or any strong cleaners in it. Even the dirty water out of the fish tank can be used. In fact, this type of grey water is chockfull of minerals that your plants will enjoy and thrive upon.
Choose the Correct Containers
Clay and ceramic pots are porous and water leaches out of them rapidly. If you must use them, make sure to add plenty of perlite and/or vermiculite (which are a highly porous form of volcanic material) or mix the soil with plenty of peat moss and manure to cut down on the amount of water that will be needed.
Choose any of these ways to save water in your garden and feel good about yourself and the environment.
By: Beverly Burgess Bell