By Alex West
We all love to spend time digging around in the dirt. The garden offers us time with family, time in nature, not to mention plenty of healthy food to eat. But are you really being green in the garden? It seems like a weird question, true, but it’s a fact that home landscaping can cost you a lot in water. A 32 sq foot garden requires roughly 20 gallons of water per week to grow a decent vegetable patch.
But you don’t have to spend too much on your water bill to have a garden the neighbors can be jealous of or keep your family in organic produce all year round. With some careful water management and planning ahead, you can learn the techniques to keep your water healthy, without wasting a drop.
1. Upgrade to Water-Efficient Emitters
If you’ve got a sprinkler or another outdoor water emitter on a timer, make sure your fixtures are water-efficient. An irrigation system should also be regularly updated if you’ve got one. The technology is improving by leaps, so ask your local experts to check out your system, and keep you on top of any upgrades.
2. Keep Your Outdoor Faucets Updated
The same goes for repairs in and out of the house. Outdoor faucets, leaking pipes, and damaged hoses can cause severe problems to the health of your family and your home. But they also cost gallons of water in the garden.
During your regular spring cleaning, as you get ready to step out into the sunshine again, check any outdoor faucets and pipes, as well as your irrigation systems and sprinklers, for leaks and dents. Keep an eye on these throughout the season.
3. Install a Rain Barrel
A rain barrel can help you conserve natural water, which means wasting less of the water in your home. It’s also free of many of the salts and chemicals present in most city water sources. Bonus, there are plenty of green-home initiatives in your community which you can take advantage of through installing a rain barrel and having an at-home compost, both of which help with your garden, and your water consumption. Good, nutrient-rich soil, like the kind that’s been fed with compost, tends to need less water.
4. Apply Some Mulch
Mulch does a great job keeping nutrients and moisture in the soil for longer. It also helps keep the root zone cool. Organic mulches can include wood chips and shredded bark, as well as leaves. All that good stuff helps contribute to the nutrients in the soil and makes your garden healthier over time. Along with mulch, long grasses can help slow down moisture evaporation and attract dew. Grow your grass about two inches to help shade the soil.
5. Get Yourself A Moisture Meter
Excessive watering is hands-down the most common of all reasons you’re losing water in your garden. Not only is it bad for water waste, but it can also cause root rot, encourage pests, and may contribute to other problems in your garden. A moisture meter can help you by providing the data you need about when is the best time to water your garden. So you won’t waste a drop, but your garden can stay healthy!
6. Use Fish Tank Water
Using household water to save water in your garden is a great idea. Fish tank water, in particular, is full of nutrients that will help the soil. It means you spend less money on plant food and non-organic fertilizer and it’s an excellent choice for your garden. Other great household water includes dishwater if you use organic dish soap, or even the coffee you’re not going to drink. Coffee grounds also make great fertilizer.
7. Try Drip Irrigation
Drip Irrigation is one of the more efficient ways to water your plants. It can be complicated, but getting some advice from your local garden center or hardware store can help you build a DIY irrigation system of tubing, to help you water those hard-to-reach places, and keep the water exactly where you need it. No spraying, no waste.
8. Get Some Drought-Friendly Plant Life
When all else fails, investing in some drought-friendly plant life goes a long way. It means you don’t have to worry about watering, and you won’t overwater. You don’t need to stick to cacti. There are plenty of beautiful plants that do well in drier climates.
Portulaca – An annual with beautiful flowers that grow in low clusters and thrives in warm places other flowers would wilt.
Coneflower - Self-sowing and known for their beautiful yellow flowers and drought-tolerant nature.
Catmint - Pretty and great for borders and rock gardens, these flowers are highly aromatic and draw plenty of bees and butterflies to your garden
Yucca - A tree or bush plant that thrives in arid temperatures.
Lavender - Lavender is the little flower that could. Not only is it beautiful and aromatic, but it’s also got lots of health benefits and can help with everything from relaxation to boosting your immunity. It’s also native to the Mediterranean, which means it’s suitable for warmer climates and doesn’t need a lot of watering.
If you’re growing vegetables and herbs, aim for those that grow in arid temperatures or can thrive in the shade, where there is bound to be moisture in the soil longer.
In the garden, the right tools are everything, and that means going beyond sunlight, water, and love, sometimes. Watering your garden can take a lot, and if you’re genuinely committed to a greener future (not to mention lowering your water bill), you’ll find ways to cut down on water use in the garden. It’s possible, with the right tools, and the right know-how. Make your world greener without costing you a green yard.
Have a great day and Happy Gardening
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