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December 2016

Gardening Tips for Saving Water This Summer

Water is a precious resource, especially over the summer months. It’s easy to change some of the ways we do our watering to get more efficient. Mulching, knowing when it’s the best time to water, and using the most efficient garden irrigation systems are great ways to conserve water in your garden.

Mulching

Mulching adds organic matter to the soil which improves its structure, prevents evaporation and helps the soil to retain moisture. Use a coarse mulch because it will allow water to move down through to the soil more easily. 8-10cm is a good amount of mulch for a garden bed with less needed in pots and containers.

Water at the right time

According to the University of Illinois Extension, the best time for watering the garden is early in the morning when it’s cooler and winds are lower. That means there’ll be less evaporation.  Morning watering in summer also ensures the plants are well topped up with water to face the heat of the day.

Use plants that need less water

Think about using plants that need less water. Lavender, palms, succulents, verbena, and herbs such as rosemary and thyme are all plants that need less watering than others. Other types of low water use plants include well established or slow growing plants and plant varieties with small or narrow leaves, or grey or silver foliage. Leathery, hairy, curled or fuzzy leaves also typically require less moisture.

Use the best irrigation system for your plants

There’s no need to over-water anymore. Drip irrigation systems allow water to seep slowly out of holes or drippers directly to the root zone. Drip systems are great for the plants and they use minimal water. Use a timer and you’ll save yourself plenty of time this summer as well as water!

A Brief Explanation of the Various Irrigation Methods

Water is as important to plants as it is to us. How the water is received by a plant can make a big difference to growing a successful garden. The best irrigation method for you will depend at least partly on your terrain, planting layout and crop type.

Soaker Hoses

Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems are very similar concepts, allowing water to be released slowly to the plants. Soaker hoses have holes or slits that weep water evenly along its length, as if it were sweating. Soaker hoses work particularly well for intensively planted garden beds.

Drip System

Drip irrigation slowly releases water through emitters or drippers right up close to the plants, exactly where they need it most. That means it uses less water and only waters the growing plants, not the surrounding weeds. It also keeps the water off the leaves, reducing the risk of fungal disease. Drip systems work particularly well for rows of crops on relatively level ground.

Garden Sprinkler

Overhead garden sprinkling systems are best kept for watering your lawn. With these systems it’s harder to control where you want the water to go. All the ground is watered including the weeds, leading to more weed growth. Overhead sprinklers wet the foliage which can cause more problems with disease.

Trenches

This ancient system involves digging a trench around the plants you want to water. Fill the trench with water which will seep through the soil to the roots of the plants. This is a labour intensive system that wastes water and will only work on level ground.

Hand Watering

The gentle, flexible nature of hand watering is useful when starting seeds and seedlings, but only until they are transplanted and robust enough for other more efficient, ground based watering systems.

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