Garden Smarter: 6 Savvy Ways to Save Water
Water conservation continues to be one of the hot topics of the decade. Meanwhile in many regions of the country, the cost of residential water service has in recent years increased by 80% or more and that trend is expected to continue.
If you’re desperately seeking ways to keep the gardens you love while you conserve water and manage your water bills, you’re not alone. Here are six savvy ways to save water, so you can garden smarter.
- Go native. Replace fussy, water-hogging flowers and blooming shrubs with hardy, tough varieties native to your region. Once they’re well-established, most tend to require less water and fewer chemicals with the added bonus that most demand less day-to-day care as well.
- Change the ratios. Substitute well-planned garden spaces for moisture-hogging turf, and you can reduce your overall outdoor water consumption. To maximize the effect, dedicate new garden areas to low- and no-water varieties.
- Establish hydrozones. Most people associate hydrozoning with landscapes, but the same principle works equally well in gardens. You can cut water use by clustering plants according to their moisture needs (high, medium or low) and adjusting irrigation accordingly. While high users may need to be watered weekly, many mid-range plants may only need to be watered twice a month, and low-water plants can often survive on available rainfall.
- Water wisely. Whether you water manually or use some type of sprinkler system, water early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and less moisture is lost to evaporation. Invest in drip irrigation or soaker hoses that provide water right above the root zone, which reduces moisture loss, promotes healthy growth and helps prevent leaf diseases caused by overhead watering. Avoid using sprinklers or sprayers when it’s breezy, because more water will be lost to wind drift.
- Mulch more. Horticulture experts and water advocates agree: Mulch is one of the most effective ways to conserve moisture in the soil and block water-greedy weeds. Instead of mulching each plant individually, mulch the entire garden bed so it captures and holds onto more moisture. For active garden beds, opt for organic mulches that release nutrients into the soil and are easy to replenish as the season progresses.
- Collect rainwater. You can catch an average of about 4 gallons of rainwater a day or 28 gallons a week in most regions of the country, and if you live in a rainy area you can harvest far more. Use it to sustain your garden during water restriction periods or reduce your expenses by cutting paid water use by 450 gallons or more over the course of the growing season.