As winter morphs into spring, our focus shifts from indoors to outside as we look forward to spending time in the yard and garden. But our spring showers won’t last forever, and once summer sets in, our green spaces need water to stay lush and inviting. If you live in a drought-prone area, the watering restrictions could be frustrating. You don’t have to break the rules to keep your garden and yard healthy, even in a very hot climate. Follow these tips for conserving water, and maintain a thriving yard and garden all year long.
Invest in Healthy Soil
When watering your plants, imagine that you're watering your soil, rather than the plants. Healthy soil will retain water at a much higher rate than poor, depleted soil. In garden beds, always add a nice layer of mulch each spring to help keep moisture in the ground and neaten the appearance of your beds. You can lightly fork the mulch from last year into your beds. Over time, it adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil, increasing its overall health. Consider aerating your lawn every fall to help your turf “breathe.”
Get Your Timing Right
One of the simplest ways to water correctly is to do so at the right time of day. Water early in the morning to minimize the evaporation that happens midday. Never water in the evening, as this increases the risk of moisture sticking around all night, which encourages disease. If you have an irrigation system, set the timer so that all your watering is done before dawn and you’ll be right as rain.
Water the Right Amount
One big mistake people make when watering is watering lightly and too frequently. This not only wastes water but is less beneficial to plants. A better strategy is to water deeply, but less often. Deep watering encourages roots to grow deep into the soil, which promotes healthy growth and makes plants more resilient. Aim for watering about once inch per week during the hottest months of the year.
There are various types of irrigation systems, and choosing the most appropriate one will ensure not a drop of water goes to waste. Sprinkler systems and rotors are ideal for lawns, and drip irrigation lines are the most efficient system for landscaping beds. Make sure at the beginning of spring that your irrigation system is in good repair and the timer is set right.
Plant a Water-Wise Landscape
Many cities have water-wise guides for native and adapted plant species to plant in a water-efficient landscape. Focusing on these plants can help to reduce your water usage in the landscape drastically. Native plants are those that grow naturally in your region without human intervention. They support local pollinators and wildlife and need little maintenance or water. The same goes for grass. Check with the Natural Resource Conservation Center or Extension office in your area to see which grass type grows best without much watering.
Harvest and Use Rainwater
Of course, one of the easiest ways to conserve water from the tap is to use the water Mother Nature provides. If you have rain gutters on your home, collecting rainwater is as simple as directing the downspouts to reservoirs. There are various ways to harvest rainwater, with systems ranging from small to massive. For small-scale projects, you won’t need much more than a barrel and a couple of essential tools and plumbing supplies.
With a little foresight and planning, you can keep your lawn and garden lush and healthy without racking up a huge water bill. But conserving water benefits more than your wallet, it’s also good for the planet. So go on, save some money, and save the world, one drop at a time.