3 Tips to Help You Save Water in Your Garden

by | Mar 6, 2014

Even though it might be hard to believe it right now while you’re staring out at all that white stuff, water is a scarce and valuable resource. Though clean water is much harder to come by in some parts of the world than here in Ontario, it still makes sense to conserve water whenever possible. Water conservation saves money, helps the local ecology and can actually result in a healthier landscape.

Here are some ideas for conserving water in your home garden and landscape that will come in handy this spring & summer:

1. MULCH

The use of mulch in your garden is one of the best ways to conserve water. Three to four inches of mulch will dramatically lessen how often you need to water. Be careful not to cover up small branches or foliage when you apply mulch. You may need to lessen the depth of mulch around low growing perennials. It is best not to mulch all the way up to the base of tree trunks or large shrubs. Leave a four to six inch gap.

Shredded hardwood bark, pine bark and pine straw are all acceptable mulching materials. You will need to top off your mulch every year or two depending upon the material and how quickly it is breaking down.

2. IRRIGATION

Though surprising to many people, irrigation systems, if used correctly, are an effective way to conserve water. Watering by hose if often very inefficient. Water is lost to evaporation and sprayed to areas where it is not really needed. By contrast, irrigation systems direct water exactly where you want it and there is a lot of control over how much water you use. Drip irrigation is the most efficient; it releases water slowly at ground level.

3. RAIN BARRELS

Even better than conserving water by mulching or irrigating, rain barrels are a way to collect and use water that you do not have to pay for. Water that falls on your roof is directed from gutters and downspouts to a rain barrel where it is stored until your garden or landscape needs watering. The top of a rain barrel has a screened entry point to keep leaves and debris from getting into the barrel. At the bottom of the barrel, a water spigot is in place for connecting a hose.

Rain barrels can be very simple or somewhat more sophisticated with options for connecting to irrigation systems or a network of multiple barrels. While do-it-yourself rain barrels can be made from plastic trash cans or similar sized containers, an easier option is to buy one from your local landscape supplier. That way you can be sure it is watertight and designed to work properly.

Rain barrels use water efficiently as part of the natural cycle. Downspouts concentrate rainwater at a single point in the landscape; by using a rain barrel, water is spread across the landscape where it soaks into the soil to be used by plants. This is what naturally occurs with rainwater. In Ontario, where rainfall can change dramatically from week to week and month to month, rain barrels are a cost effective way to conserve water and maintain your garden.

HEALTHY PLANTS, HEALTHY PLANET

All of these water conservation techniques are useful ways to help keep a healthy garden. Overwatering tends to create shallow root systems. Plants watered efficiently through conservation methods will develop deeper root systems and be able to better withstand fluctuations in water levels and frequency.

As we know, conservation is good for the environment. Seemingly small efforts such as installing a rain barrel in your backyard will not only help you save money and water, but will be good for the environment shared by all of us.

If you have a question about taking care of your garden, or you’re interested in investigating a more eco-friendly landscaping design, contact us now.

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