Making sure your plants have enough water is essential to the health of your garden, but making sure no drop is wasted is key to keeping down your water bill. When and how you water your garden will not only ensure that your plants will flourish it will help conserve water and keep costs down.
Saving water means saving money on your water bill. These tips offer a water-wise approach to gardening.
In most cases, an inch of water a week will supply what most established plantings need (as well as abide by most municipal water restrictions). Instead of applying that inch through shallow, frequent waterings (which actually waste water without meeting your plants’ needs), do it once a week in one deep watering. This will ensure deep rooting, leading to stronger, healthier plants.
“Naturescaping” – the practice of using plants that would normally grow in the area where you live in your yard and garden – is one of the very best ways you can save water and enjoy thriving plants with a minimum amount of care. Native plants have had thousands of years to adjust to an area’s normal rainfall, soil and climate. Once established, they require little or no watering. Another plus to naturescaping is that it offers food and shelter to local wildlife and attracts native songbirds to your yard.
Keep It Small
The bigger the plant, the more water it needs – the same goes for crowding your plants. When choosing shrubs to plant, don’t go with a variety that will grow larger than you need it to, and be sure to keep it pruned. And if you’re tempted to crowd plants along a walkway, keep in mind that plants that look sparse at first will fill out as the seasons pass.
Load Up On Mulch
“Mulch” refers to any protective material added to the surface of soil. Not only does mulch save you work by cutting down on weeds, it helps to prevent water loss keeps flower beds moist. There are two kind of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches can be made up of bark chips, pine needles, compost or even grass clippings and ground-up leaves. Organic mulches add nutrients to the soil.
Inorganic mulches (made from pebbles and gravel, plastic, recycled materials or landscaping fabric) also keep the soil moist and have added advantages in that they won’t attract pests or need to be replaced every year.
For new plants and shrubs, a ring-shaped “bank” of mulch or soil that’s the width of the tree (including branches) can be filled with water which will then be slowly absorbed instead of running off, ensuring your plant gets the maximum benefit of the water.
Get To Know Your Sun Spots
Pay attention to where, when and how long the sun shines on your garden. Then, put dry-soil plants in sunny locations and plants that need a lot of water in shaded areas. Next to the house is a good place for water-needy plants – runoff from the roof can help cut down on how often you have to use your hose.
Reuse And Recycle Water
There are other ways to make use of rain runoff – a 25' x 40' roof can drop as much as 600 gallons of water during a moderate rainfall. Rather than let all that water go to waste, capture it in a rain barrel! All you need is a capture system consisting of roof gutters and downspouts (an attractive rain chain also works), a large-capacity rain barrel and a garden hose. The rainwater you collect will be great for your plants and a cost-effective way to fill re-circulating water features and birdbaths.
Plant Hardy Grasses
A lawn can take in more than 20,000 gallons of water each year. Consider switching to a water-resistant variety. Hardy choices include Bermuda grass and buffalo grasses, both of which need 20% less water than fescue or bluegrass.
The higher your grass, the more it shades the roots from the sun and the more it prevents moisture from evaporating. Raise the height of your mower to no lower than three inches.
Stay Cool When Planting
The best time to plant or transplant is early spring or early fall. The cooler weather means your plants will need less water to get established, and when summer rolls around, their root system will work more efficiently.
Get An Early Start On Watering
Watering during the heat of the day means your plants will lose part of the life-giving liquid to evaporation, so water in the cool morning hours. It might seem logical to water in the evening when the sun is down and temperatures are cooler, but this puts your plants at risk for developing mildew and fungi.
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