Whether you’re caring for a container garden or keeping a homestead vegetable plot alive, using water efficiently and mindfully is important. In many places, water restrictions are common — especially during the summers. But even if your area isn’t experiencing drought, follow these simple steps to conserve one of our most precious resources.
Collect water inside the house
In our house, half-full glasses of water either get added to the dog’s water bowl or dumped on a parched houseplant. And on those days when I forget my water bottle in the hot car, I empty it on a plant. Even cleaning old, glacier-like ice from the icemaker is an opportunity to water the garden. On a bigger scale, keep a bucket in your shower to collect water for your plants. Let it catch precious drops as the water warms up, and even while you shower (provided you use eco-friendly, biodegradable bath products).
Water at the right time
Don’t waste time watering in the middle of the day; that’s when temperatures are warmest and water will evaporate quickly. It’s better to water the garden in the evening, or very early morning. That way the water has time to soak down to the roots, rather than evaporating up into the air.
Employ soaker hoses, self-watering containers or globes
If you’re just starting out with your garden, consider burying soaker hoses a few inches below the surface. These allow you to water deeply, right to the plants’ roots, and that means the water doesn’t have a chance to evaporate. Self-watering containers and globes that are placed in potted plants accomplish the same thing: taking the water straight to the part of the plant that needs it most.
Mulch, mulch, mulch
Not only does mulch help prevent weeds in your garden, but it also keeps moisture underground, where it’s most needed. During the hot summer, mulched containers and garden beds will remain cooler and require less watering that their un-mulched counterparts. Choose mulch made from organic compounds, which will nourish your garden’s soil as it slowly decomposes.
If you have the space (and gutters!), consider harvesting rainwater in a rain barrel. During even a small rain, amazing amounts of precipitation can be caught in a barrel for use in the garden. If you are caring for a small patio garden, simply set out containers with each storm and use what you catch. Every drop counts!
How are you water-wise in your garden? Share your tips below!