Tips for Beautiful Water-Wise Gardens
Saving water and enjoying the environmental benefits of low water plants is easy. This thoughtful approach is built on some basic, commonsense principles.
Talk to the professionals at your local garden center to learn about the types of low-water plants that do well in your area. You may be pleasantly surprised at the range of choice.
Group together plants that require the same amount of water. That way you aren’t overwatering some as you provide enough moisture for others.
Reduce overall water needs by planting trees and shrubs to provide shade to cool buildings, air conditioning units, patios, decks and porches. Spike or aerate lawns to insure maximum water penetration. Control weeds that compete for water.
Soil that is well prepared at the time of planting helps plants settle in quickly and yields the best results in the long run. And plants placed in good soil will be healthier, often needing less water.
Soil characteristics include texture, structure, depth and nutrient levels. To find out more about soil content, test your soil with a Soil Test Kit.
Efficient irrigation is a critical part of water wise gardening. Your irrigation system can be as simple as a hand-held hose or as elaborate as an in-ground sprinkler system. Consider a drip system or soaker hoses, both of which reduce evaporation and can use less than half of the water required by sprinklers. If you choose to go with overhead sprinklers choose the newer types of heads that deliver droplets rather than fine misting sprays. Droplets reduce evaporation. Deep, infrequent watering promotes strong root growth and is the wisest use of water. Roots that extend deep into the soil avoid the hot surface crust and are more tolerant of dry spells.
Water early in the day and on less windy days to reduce evaporative loss. The ideal time to water is from dawn until 9:00 a.m. Monitor your sprinklers and turn them off during rain showers. Watch for overwatering; streams that run into gutters and streets indicate that adjustments are needed.
Mulching is always beneficial. It helps prevent soil erosion, water evaporation and disease spread through splashed soil that carries spores. Bark mulch helps keep soil cooler on blistering hot summer days. And it reduces the growth of weeds, unwelcome garden residents that compete with your plants.
Using less water for landscaping means there’ll be more money in your pocket. (Who doesn’t love that?) And you’ll be helping the environment. Big bonus!