Countries around the world have seen persistent drought-spells and dam reservoirs hitting their lowest points in decades, and in some cases, water-restrictions have become a common occurrence. In times like these, it’s crucial for everyone to re-evaluate their water priorities and reconsider ways of protecting their gardens as they are the ones taking the hardest hit.
Reducing water usage in gardens doesn’t necessarily mean letting your plants wither and die. It simply means being water-wise and resourceful which may require more work and preparation, but such an investment will pay off by helping both the environment and your pocket.
Here are several water-saving tips to help your garden and yard stay healthy.
PREPARE YOUR SOIL
The key to maintaining a water-efficient garden lies in understanding the soil, good planning and its preparation. Each type of soil is different and can be improved in many ways. Compost helps water retention by adding nutrients needed for plants to grow better and stronger.
Good-quality organic matter will improve the structure of your soil and with mulching, the flowerbeds and the area around your trees and shrubs will also prevent water evaporation during dry spells. You can also use water crystals for the same purpose and with the addition of water-retentive granules to your compost, even more moisture will stay locked in the soil.
When it comes to your lawn, there’s no reason to panic if you notice brown or yellow spots during dry periods. When the rain returns, it will quickly recover. However, it helps to be water-savvy with your irrigation, by mowing the lawn a bit higher and giving it deep watering just once a week to boost the root system.
PICK THE RIGHT PLANTS
For a wonderful green garden that requires no excess amount of watering, after proper soil treatment, your next step is selecting the right plants that are low on water needs. Choose native varieties that can withstand dry spells and lots of sun, and add trees and tall plants for cooling shade. There are lots of plants that have evolved in dryer climates and need very little water to survive, such as lavender, verbena, mimosa and palm trees.
WATER YOUR GARDEN AT THE RIGHT TIME
Many homeowners over-water their gardens which is not only wasteful but it also demands more work. You can easily prevent this by checking your soil at spade depth – if it’s moist, leave it be. It also depends on your soil type. If it’s clay, it may seem damp whether it’s been irrigated or not, and sandy soil can seem dry even if it has been watered. In these situations, inspect your plants for signs of water stress. If you notice leaves changing color or position, it may signify water shortage.
USE THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF WATER
Using the right amount of water depends on your soil type. Heavy soils need less watering than light sandy ones whereas clay-based soils need lots of water but can be watered less often. The common rule for plants to stay healthy and keep growing is giving it up to 24 liters per square meter once a week.
CHOOSE THE BEST WATERING TECHNIQUES
The right watering technique will also help you maintain your garden well. You can opt for sprinklers for your lawn and unplanted areas as they have great coverage. To target specific sections of your garden, it’s best to use watering cans and hoses. They might be more labor-intensive, but they’re also very precise.
Seep hoses allow water to slowly seep through holes in the hose and being buried under soil and mulch, less water will evaporate. An automated irrigation system is the most expensive option, but it’s also one of the most effective and water-saving options as it limits the amount of water used by letting it drip slowly and only when you program it to do so.
COLLECT RAINWATER AND REUSE OLD WATER
Even in the dryer parts of the country, it’s possible to collect large amounts of rainwater from your house roof. It’s not easy to store large amounts, but if every home in the country managed to collect around 160 liters that would give 4 billion liters of free water that can be used for garden watering.
Another way to be water-savvy is to use greywater (from showers, washing up and washing machines). By way of diverters, this greywater can be used efficiently in your garden. Household soaps aren’t harmful to plants, but do avoid using water that contains bleach, dishwasher salt or any strong chemicals.
Maintaining a lush and healthy garden in hot climates can be challenging, but with these tips, it’s possible to grow a beautiful garden you can truly be proud of and enjoy year-round!
Guest Contributor: Kurtis Wilcox