For many, gardening is a lifestyle. It can be a hobby, a form of creative self-expression, or a practical way to provide fresh and healthy food for the family. Regardless of its purpose, however, a sustainable garden requires more than just carefully planted seeds, or generously fertilized soil.
See, in order for a garden to truly thrive, it needs proper watering. And while everybody can water a garden, not everybody can do it in the most efficient way.
With the scarcity of water resources around the globe today due to major factors like rapid population growth, pollution, and climate change (i.e. lakes and reservoirs drying up, prolonged drought) the need for more efficient ways of water consumption has become more urgent than ever before.
Water conservation and the sustainable garden
The question most conscious, responsible gardeners ask, then, is how to cultivate a flourishing sustainable garden without wasting water. Here are some water saving tips for home gardeners.
1. Reinforce your soil.
Plants absorb nutrients from the soil. Hence, it is important to keep your garden soil moist. To minimize the need for constant watering, add organic matter to the soil to help improve its structure and allow it to retain as much moisture as possible.
Adding mulch or water-retaining granules mixed with compost around your garden bed or encircling the bases of your trees and shrubs can also lock in moisture and help prevent it from evaporating from the soil.
2. Water at the right frequency and time.
A lot of people water their gardens excessively for fear of their plants dying from insufficient moisture. While it is true that plants suffer when they do not get enough water, too much water may also hinder them from thriving. Moreover, not only are you wasting water when you overwater your garden, you are also wasting your energy and time.
To help you determine when to water your garden, check the soil. The rule of thumb is, if your finger is a good four inches deep in the ground and the soil is still dry, it is time to water; otherwise, it is just fine.
In some cases, clay soil feels and looks damp whether it is watered or not, and sandy soil may feel dry even if it is irrigated. If one of these is your case, check your plants for signs of water stress, which may include the position, growth pattern, and color of the leaves.
Also, take note of the appearance and moisture level of the soil every time you water your garden. This will help you gauge when to water your garden again. Watering the garden before the drought season can also help increase the soil’s moisture level and prevent water deficit. Evening time is the best time to water the garden because it is cooler and lesser evaporation.
3. Water with the right amount.
The amount of water that you use for your garden depends on the type of soil that you have. Sandy soil needs more watering than heavy soil. Clay soil requires less frequency but higher amounts of water.
As per the Royal Horticultural Society, for plants to continue thriving, at least 24 litres of water per square meter, or 5.2 gallons of water per 10 square feet, every seven to ten days is enough.
4. Use the best watering systems for your type of garden.
With the rise of technology, garden watering techniques have become both more efficient and cost-effective. Here is a list of some of the best garden watering systems and techniques.
Sprinkler systems are used to water lawns and gardens. These help soak up the soil and have great watering coverage. These also provide the option to automatically turn on and off, which saves you the time of doing it yourself.
Also known as soaker hoses, these are especially designed hoses that allow water to seep out of the holes on the sides of the hose. Typically buried under the soil or mulch to prevent copious water evaporation, seep hoses help in efficiently watering a garden bed or flower bed. They provide better coverage on heavy soil compared to lighter soil.
Custom garden irrigation system
This system can be manual or automated. Most people prefer to use the automated option as it saves time and effort. You can program the system to water heavily or lightly, and set your preferred time and frequency of watering your garden. To use this system efficiently, Onga pumps are great for building and maintaining constant water pressure levels.
5. Reuse old water or collect rainwater.
Even if you lived in the driest part of the world, you can still save up at least 24,000 litres or 5,280 gallons of rainwater each year. If everybody around the world saved their rainwater, we would have billions of litres of free water that we can all use on our gardens!
To collect rainwater, just divert the rainwater from your roof’s drain pipe into the water butt or wheelie bin.
Reusing old water or greywater, which consists of water from showers, bath tubs, bathroom sinks, and washing machines, is an efficient way of reusing water. You can use greywater diverters to divert the used water to your irrigation system or water butt.
Household detergents and soaps are harmless to plants, but avoid reusing water that contains bleach, disinfectant, and strong cleaners as these chemicals may harm your plants, damage the soil structure, and may pose a health risk for you and your family.
Maintaining a water-conserving sustainable garden takes a good amount of effort, but the rewards are worth far more than one can imagine.
Do you tend a garden of your own? Are you planning to start one? Share with us your tips for water conservation while keeping your sustainable garden thriving!