21 tips to save water in the garden
Saving water while gardening is not a new idea, but today it is becoming absolutely important. Here is a list of tips to save water in the garden.
As you know, there are several advantages in saving water, the main are:
- save a precious resource that should be available to all;
- it will save you money in the water bill;
- it will help you keep your plants alive in times of drought.
There are several dimensions in this topic, and several ways you can reduce the water consumption in the garden. Being by saving it in butts, choosing drought resistant plants or plant them in an appropriate position…
We compiled a list of several ways you can reduce water consumption in the garden. Here it is.
1. Save rainwater
Collecting the rainwater is one of the top actions you can make to save water.
Set up a rainwater collector to take advantage of the water that flows from the roof through the gutters. There are several types of water butts available, just find the one that suits your garden.
2. Water at the right time
Choosing the right time of the day to water your plants is an important measure to garantee that any drop is used by the plants.
By watering at night, you reduce evaporative losses, and give plants more time to rehydrate.
3. Reduce watering frequency
Reduce watering frequency from 5 times a week to a maximum of 2 but giving a good soak everytime you water.
The gradual reduction in the frequency of watering forces plants to deepen their roots, making them increasingly independent.
4. Water the soil, not the leaves
Water the plants root zone that is where they get it and avoid wasting water in the leaves. Also, keeping water off your plants’ leaves will help control fungal diseases and prevent sunscald.
5. Use the right amount of water
This depends on the soil type. Light sandy soils need watering more often than heavy soils. Clay-based soils can be watered less frequently, but need more water.
The Royal Horticultural Society’s rule of thumb is that for plants to keep growing, up to 24 litres per sq metre (5.2 gallons per 10 sq ft) every seven to 10 days is sufficient. That’s about two and a half 10 litre watering cans worth per sq metre.
6. Use plant saucers
Capture the water that escapes from drainage holes in pots using plant saucers. Retaining this water will help in keeping the bottom of the pot moist. As the plant roots grow deeper in the pot, they will be able to capture this water.
7. Mow high
Keeping your grass at the upper recommended limit will help shade the soil and prevent excessive evaporation.
8. Don’t overwater
It sounds obvious, but more water is wasted through overwatering than for any other reason. Watering too much doesn’t just waste a precious resource but can also damage your plants.
Too much water in the soil stresses your plants’ root systems and contributes to root rot and fungal and bacterial disease.
9. Do not water when there is rain in forecast
This is also pretty obvious, just make sure you keep updated on the weather forecast so you can avoid watering the garden when rain is just about to occur.
10. Reuse water using “grey water”
Water the plants with the leftover water from the kitchen or the bathroom.
Water left in the drinking glass, water used in washing or cooking vegetables or water from your showers. These types of water contains minimal levels of soap and can be safely used in the garden.
You shall not use water that has salt, fat or other chemicals you know will hurt the plants and the wildlife in your garden.
11. Plant the right species
When choosing native species from your region, you can rest assured that they will perfectly fit the local climate and rain regime, dispensing additional watering.
Also consider using plants from arid regions, such as succulents or mediterranean species for places that are more exposed. These plants have adapted to drought conditions and specialized in saving water. Here is a good list of annuals that are drought tolerant.
You should also consider grasses as an option, here is a list of the best drought resistant grasses.
We just covered half of our tips to save water in the garden.
12. Plant trees
The trees provide shelter to the garden and the house, reducing the temperature and the water evaporation. The water transpired by the trees also provides a less dry atmosphere arround your garden.
In addition, once well established, they do not need watering and are able to find water from the depths of the soil.
13. Avoid isolated plants, plant compact
Plant compact borders so the plants protect each other. When you plant them close, the portion of soil that is exposed to the sun in between them is minimal, so the plants shelter will also recude water evaporation from the soil.
In vegetable gardens, you can also save water by grouping your crops. Thus the area to be watered is smaller.
Avoid water loss through soil evaporation covering the spaces between the plants with a mulch, such as straw, dry leaves, pine bark, thick sawdust, etc.
The mulch decomposes, nourishing the plants, prevents the emergence of weeds and drastically reduces water evaporation. Mulch after a rain has occured or a generous watering was given to enclose the water in soil. If you mulch dry soil, the water will also have troubles to penetrate from above.
15. Add more organic matter to the soil
Adding compost to the soil before planting help in reducing the plants’ water needs. Increasing the amount of organic matter by only 5% will quadruple the water holding capacity of the soil.
Use the compost from your bin, bagged compost or farmers manure.
16. Control weeds
In addition to uglify your garden, weeds compete for water and nutrients. Weed the garden so the water is all used for your garden stars.
Mulching is a great way to minimize weeds, but every gardener knows that weeding is a “must do job”.
17. Protect from the winds
It is well known that wind can dry out the garden like, or even harder, than the blazing sun. The wind will take the humidity from leaves and they will allways need to be transpiring to keep hydrated.
Plant windbreak shrubs to reduce evaporation from both soil and plants. Choose sheltered positions for plants that are more prone to wind damage like the acers.
18. Use porous materials
Use pourous materials in paths and decks in the garden so the water is not lost to the street and is captured to your soil. It will penetrate the soil and helps to deeply irrigate the plants in your garden.
19. Use the most recent watering techniques
There is a lot of technology available to help you water in an efficient way. Make a watering plan and ask a professional how you can improve your watering system.
20. Eliminate leaks
Outdoor leaks are especially prone to waste a lot of water because they often aren’t noticed. Be sure to do your own inspection from time to time to avoid any bad surprises.
21. Don’t use water when there is another tool to do it
Use a rake, broom or outdoor blower to clean paths and driveways rather than a hose. Colect the organic material and put it working for you in the compost bin.
Do you know any tip that is not included here? Please let us know in the comments section below. Thank you.