A hot, dry, summer can turn watering the garden into a daily chore. How many drought like summer seasons have you endured already? Are you forever out there soaking your plants while sweating like mad?
Well, first of all stop. Second of all – gardening doesn’t need to be a chore, especially in the scorching hot summer months. Good water use practices can reduce the work and the water bill too. Here are a few ideas on ways to reduce water use in the garden this year.
Five Easy Ways to Save Water and Grow Gorgeous Gardens This Season
Use Lots of Mulch
One of the most effective ways to reduce water use in the garden is with a good layer of mulch. At the beginning of the growing season heavily mulch your plants. Three inches of mulch is not too thick, especially in sun-drenched areas.
In northern climates or high elevations where soil is slow to warm, it’s better to hold off on the mulch until the soil warms up. That may mean waiting until Victoria Day weekend in some areas of Canada.
If mulch thins out over the season, add some more. Many gardeners feel fated to watering two times a day, not knowing that a thick layer of mulch will put a stop to the practice.
Water Using a Soaker Hose or Drip Irrigation
Water using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system. Soaker hoses slowly weep water onto the surface of the soil. This allows the water to soak in deeply without running off.
The disadvantage of soaker hoses is that they need to be placed right next to the plant that needs irrigation because the water simply drips off the hose. Place the soaker hose beneath the mulch layer for an effective watering.
Inexpensive irrigation line can be purchased from the hardware store or garden center. It consists of somewhat flexible black plastic tubing which can be connected to a garden hose.
The irrigation line is run throughout the garden. Smaller lines are added to the main line by punching a hole and then adding smaller tubing. At the end of the tubing, various attachments produce a drip or a spray.
The advantage of the irrigation line is that a new drip or spray line can be added easily. Both soaker and irrigation lines cut water use by concentrating water directly where it is needed.
Water less frequently and water deeply. Using a soaker hose, irrigation hose, or even a slowly running hose, deeply water the garden. Spraying the surface quickly every day allows a lot of water to evaporate before it sinks deep into soil. It’s not a bad idea to check how deeply water is soaking into the soil with your finger or a water meter.
It’s always better to water the roots and not the leaves. In really hot temperatures, if you water the above ground portions of flowers, shrubs and other plants you can actually burn the plants and cause damage. Soak the roots instead and let them do their job.
Soils can become hydrophobic and actually repel water. Correct this easily with a soaker hose and good layer of mulch.
Choose Plants Wisely
Choose the right plants for the area. Planting a tropical plant in a desert area will lead to excessive water use. Local gardeners or garden centers can point out the plants that do well in particular parts of the country, as well as those adapted to full shade or full sun.
Harvest Rainwater, It’s Free
Rainwater harvesting reduces water use in the garden. The simplest method is to place a garbage can under the downspout of a rain gutter. Buy a rain barrel now, or look for one on sale. Sometimes charities sell these at this time of year so keep your eyes and ears open.
Create berms around individual plants or groups of plants to hold water in place so it can soak in deeply.
In many areas, water can be costly and wasteful. I hate that first summer water bill every year. When coupled with the hydro use for washing more towels and showering after swimming, plus topping up the pool, the bills add up quickly.
Make Gardening Fun Again
With a little forethought, you can reduce water use without making it a big deal. Reduce water use in the garden this year and save some money while still growing healthy gardens.
Recommended Gardening Gifts and Tools
Are you always looking for gardening gifts for green thumbs? Here is a fun idea to gift someone you know. The Drunk Botanist. And here are all the gardening tools you need to make gardening less of a chore this season.
Don’t forget to get your kids involved in gardening this year too. Kid’s gardens can be a great way to teach children to love gardening.