Water Conservation in the Garden
Water Conservation in the Garden
Gardening is more than just planting seeds and squirting them with water. For many gardening enthusiasts, it is both a lifestyle and a way to provide fresh, healthy food to their families. Plants must be given just the right amount of water to thrive, and over-watering is not only detrimental; it’s extremely wasteful. Responsible gardeners study the needs of their plants and water accordingly to keep their plants growing strong and healthy and to conserve one of the most valuable resources on the planet. Careful watering not only produces better fruits and vegetables; it also prevents unnecessarily high watering costs.
Thirsty Plants Need Water
All living organisms need both food and water to thrive, and plants are no exception. Plants differ from animals and insects in the aspect that they extract their nutrients from water through their roots. Thirsty plants absorb water from damp soil, drawing it up into the roots. The moisture travels up the main stem of the plant and into the smaller stems in a process known as mass flow. The individual plant cells absorb the nutrients they need from the water, and it passes through the stomata; miniscule holes in the leaves. Plants only receive nutrients from water in the soil around the roots, and plants must receive just the right amount of moisture to thrive; too much water and the plant cells stop absorbing nutrients, while too little water causes the stomata to dry out and close.
Efficient watering techniques keep your garden growing strong and save money on your monthly water bills. Plant your garden in level soil to prevent runoff waste. Level soil surfaces give your plants plenty of time to absorb water before it runs downhill. Water your garden in accordance how much water Mother Nature provides your plants. Install a rain gauge in your garden, and decrease watering time if there is a significant amount of water in the gauge. Keep water pressure low, and point the spout directly at the plants to avoid watering sidewalks or driveways. Wake up a little early and water your garden before the day gets too hot. Watering before 9 a.m. prevents water loss through evaporation.
Types of Irrigation
Knowing how to water your garden is just as important as knowing when to water. Efficient irrigation techniques are designed to give your plants just the right amount of moisture for proper nutrient absorption without too much waste. Watering your garden with a can allows you to distribute the just right amount of water to the soil without wasteful runoff. If your garden is too large to water with a can, small sprinklers positioned directly under the plants provide necessary moisture without waste. Drip irrigation is an even more efficient watering technique, although it is more time-consuming to install. Drip irrigation systems deliver water to the soil through hoses with tiny holes in them, allowing water to slowly soak into the soil. Don’t turn on the hose and lay it in the center of the garden; the plants in the middle flood while plants around the perimeter receive little to no water.
Water Saving Extras
Evaporation is a major factor in water loss while gardening, and mulches and composts not only minimize moisture loss, they provide a host of nutrients for hungry plants. Organic mulch is the most common type of mulch, and most often includes small bits of bark or wood chips, lawn trimmings, old leaves, and small bits of hay or straw. Dampen the soil around each plant with an inch of water, and spread a 2-inch deep layer of compost around the plant. Water the mulch with another inch of water to lock in moisture and nourishment. Make your own compost for an extra bit of water control in your garden by throwing lawn clippings, leaves, wood chips, and food waste such as peels and coffee grounds in a large plastic tub, and set it in a sunny location. Turn the comport every few days with a shovel until it breaks down into a dark brown, earthy-scented paste. Add small scoops of compost to the soil near the roots in the early spring, and mix it gently into the dirt to feed the plants and conserve water throughout the growing season.
Weeds and Water Conservation
Weeds are the unnecessary sponge of the gardening community. They absorb moisture and vital food resources from your valuable plants, and result in unneeded water expenditure each time you water. Weed your entire garden surface before planting your crops to minimize water waste during the growing season. Pull weeds as close the soil as possible, grasping them between your gloved hands and pulling straight out with a bit of force. If the weed breaks off, dig out the roots with a small shovel to prevent regrowth. Spread a weed and feed fertilizer over the soil, and water the ground gently to push the fertilizer into the soil and kill sprouting weeds hidden underground. Let the fertilized soil rest for at least 2 weeks to kill weeds and allow excess herbicide to dissipate to prevent damage to newly-planted flowers and vegetables.
Popular Plant Watering Requirements
Flower gardens and vegetable gardens are two of the most common garden types, and each type has a few popular plants that most every gardener grows. Tomatoes are by far one of the most common plants in vegetable gardens, and they’re simple enough for even novice gardeners to master. Tomato plants should be watered every two or three days, and the soil should be soaked to a depth of 1 inch. Peppers are another popular garden vegetable, and require watering every other day to prevent growing peppers from drying out. Cucumbers are both tasty and popular, and the soil should be kept damp at all times, so water the base of each plant daily with a can or drip irritation hose. If flowers are more your thing, pick up a few pansies. These popular little flowers grow in most soil and require minimal watering to thrive. Dampen the soil to a depth of 1 inch, and let the soil dry out between waterings. Marigolds are another popular flower choice, and should be watered freely to keep the soil moist, but don’t water so much that puddles remain on the soil.
Perfect Plants for Dry Landscapes
Trading out high-water plants for those that require little to no additional watering will keep your garden healthy and your wallet full. Look for plants that thrive naturally in your local environment, since these plants grow throughout the year without extra watering. Lavender and rosemary are both hearty plants that maximize water use and with very little supplemental water. Flowers that grow and bloom with minimal watering include black-eyed susans, cornflowers, verbena and baby’s breath. Evergreen shrubs are an ideal choice for low-water shrubs, as are lilac bushes if your garden needs a little extra color and fragrance.