Thursday, June 11, 2009

Conserving Water in Garden Watering Restrictions

Drought prone regions often call for smarter garden watering practices as water is an extremely precious commodity. In fact, authorities in some places will even impose water restrictions thereby limiting water usage of households. If you live in a drought prone region, you have probably already mastered the art of gardening with water restrictions in place. But even if you do not have to really worry about water restrictions, it is a good idea to be an environmentally conscious gardener and conserve water anyway.

Believe it or not, gardens account for about 25% of water usage in a household and a lot of this is due to unnecessary wastage that can be avoided if you are conscientious. To optimize your usage of water, some of these garden watering restriction tips might be worth considering.

No Garden Water Sprinkler System

Most water restricted areas will probably put a ban on the use of garden water sprinklers, so a hand held watering cans or small buckets are the best way to save water as they dramatically reduce wastage of water. If you are using a water sprinkler system, use a timer to control your usage.

Choose Xerophyte Plants to Conserve Water

As a gardener, you probably already know that some plants “drink” more water than others. A good way to be water wise is to choose plants that are drought resistant, consume very little water (xerophytic) or use non-invasive exotic plants instead. I have also found that plants with foliage do extremely well when you are trying to conserve water and in keeping with the current container gardening trend, foliage plants do very well in containers. Yuccas, Agaves, Escheverias, Cycads, and various types of Flax are some examples. Plants with grayish or silver leaves also do well in drought prone regions so Lavenders, Westringia or Bearded Iris are all good choices. If you are unsure of how to choose the right plants for your garden, your local nursery is a good place to look for advice on plants that do not need large amounts of water to survive.

Conserving Water when Watering

Most gardens only really require about one bucket of water for every square meter to avoid wilting; so most of the time, we tend to use more water than necessary. I have always believed the easiest way to save water is simply being smarter about the way we use it while gardening. For example, I always group plants according to how much water they need so I use only the amount of water that is really needed. Also, remember to water plants at their root zone as this will help them retain water longer and also encourage the growth of deeper, hardier roots.

Saving Water by Slowing Evaporation

Another good idea is to mulch your garden beds and even potted plants as this slows evaporation and keeps your plants hydrated longer. Over 70% of water evaporates instantly if the soil is not protected by a layer of mulch. Soil wetting agents are also great because they hold water in the soil longer. In fact, early mornings and evenings are the best times to water your garden as evaporation is least during these times.

Weeding to Conserve Gardening Water

Every gardener knows this but when it comes down to reducing wastage of water, weeding is especially important because they are in competition with the rest of the plants in your garden and are soaking up water that would otherwise be used by your plants.

Recycle Water for Gardens

We love our plants, but they do not necessarily need clean filtered water to grow. Your garden can successfully survive if you use “gray water” to keep your plants hydrated. Gray water is domestic waste water, that comes from your laundry or bathroom and this water is suitable for watering the lawn, fruit trees and garden beds.

Gardening with water restrictions may seem a challenging task for the inexperienced but smart thinking and creative water usage can not only help you stay within legal water usage limits, but also make you an environmentally conscious gardener.