Did you know that changing your watering habits will not only save that precious resource, but can also save you money and time? Here are some simple ways to rethink garden design and cut back on water use in your garden:
• Plant smaller areas away from wind
Grow only what you need or love. Think about planting in blocks instead of rows, which reduces evaporation and shelters plants from sun and wind. Tall varieties and garden elements provide shade, which reduces the need for more watering.
• Pick the right pots
Because metal heats up fast, these types of containers draw moisture out of the soil and plants will need more water. Unglazed terracotta pots also lose moisture due to their porous surface, so stick with glazed pots.
• Purchase fast-growing plants and avoid super-thirsty ones
Varieties with large leaves generally require much more water than herbs, succulents, and species with small, narrow leaves or grey/silver foliage. Opt for native plants, and be sure to group ones with the same soil, sun and root requirements.
• Mulch is your BFF!
On a hot day, up to 70% of water will disappear from your soil. Laying down a thick layer of mulch – at least three inches – will hold in moisture, keep weeds down and add nutrients to your soil.
• Water your flowerbeds in the morning and your containers in the afternoon
Because many potting soil mixes have low moisture retention properties, container plants dry out faster than those in beds. So quench your garden’s thirst first thing in the morning before the sun beats down upon it to minimize evaporation. Nighttime watering is a bad idea, because moisture on plant leaves probably won’t be able to dry out in cooler temperatures, resulting in fungus.
• Think outside the hose
If you tally up how much water we have access to each day, much of it can be harvested and reused in the garden! For example, collect rain in barrels, save your cooking water after steaming or boiling veggies (bonus: it’s packed with nutrients!), and dump your fish tank water on your plants instead of down the sink.
• Ditch your automatic sprinkler system
Who wants to water right before a rainstorm? Checking your local weather forecast will save water and time.
• Got a chopstick? Use it as a moisture meter!
Poke a chopstick into your soil – if it goes in easily, don’t water.
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