Tag: water

Top 5 Ways to Save Water this Summer

Once spring showers subside and the heat really sets in, gardeners are looking to save on their water bill and conserve. As a southerner, I’m no stranger to grass withering, plant killing and flower wilting heat. I’ve sweated my way through many a summer and tested different ways to keep my plants well-watered in the best and most efficient means possible. Here are my five top tips for ways to save water during the summer.

Tip 1: Timing

Water early in the morning or in the late afternoon. The best time to water is between 6 to 10 a.m. The worst time to water your lawn or garden is between 11 to 3 p.m. If watering in the early morning isn’t impossible, it is acceptable to water from 4 to 7 p.m. Don’t water during the night as this may invite fungus and mildew to grow. (This isn’t a concern if you live in an extremely arid environment, like the southwestern United States.)

A lawn only requires 1 1/2 inches of water per week to stay actively growing, so water only twice a week, maxim, and let the water soak deeply into the soil to encourage deeper root growth. Infrequent deep soaks are much better than frequent light waterings.

Flexzilla Garden Hose

The Flexzilla Garden Hose is the only hose we use at Moss Mountain Farm. The lightweight, kink-free ZillaGreen™ hose will not kink under pressure. This hose has no memory, which means it will lie flat and coil easily. Lifetime warranty.

Tip 2: Landscape

Grow native plants. They are equipped to handle your region’s normal levels of rainfall. Or limit non-native plants to certain areas of the garden and group plants with similar water requirements together. That way, during the heat of summer, you’re not pushing (as much) against nature.

Tip 3: Install a rain barrel

Install a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect water runoff from the roof during the wet months for use in the lawn or garden later in the dry season. They’re low maintenance and easy to use. I’d like to see every home outfitted with one. As water becomes increasingly scarce in areas with overstressed aquifers, I believe more communities will increase the use of rain barrels.

Tip 4: Mulch

Form a barrier between the hot sun and the soil with a layer of mulch. It maximizes the effectiveness of your watering. You’ll be amazed at the profound difference in soil moisture it makes.

Tip 5: Grass

Let grass stand tall. Mow grass to a height of 2 to 3 inches. Taller grass shades the roots and soil surface, which helps reduce the amount of water that is lost to evaporation.

Apply these tips and see your garden thrive on less water this summer. Hopefully, you’ll be able to do your sweating in your rocking chair rather than over your water bill.

5 Ways to Conserve Water in the Garden

When those raindrops stop falling, and temperatures soar, it’s time to come to the rescue of your fading flowers and thirsty vegetables.

Whether you’re experiencing just a short dry spell or struggling with a deepening drought, there’s plenty you can do to help your plants survive and even thrive during the dog days of summer.

Good Neighbors
Put plants with similar water requirements together. You’ll be able to “water smart,” which means you won’t waste moisture on plants that don’t need it or neglect plants that do.

Annuals and vegetables are usually fairly high maintenance, when it comes to water. They need a lot and they need it often. Herbs are fairly drought-tolerant; lawns are always thirsty; and flowering shrubs such as roses, need more water than sturdy evergreens. Container plantings usually require frequent watering because there’s not much soil in which to store moisture. Add water retentive polymers to the soil when potting up a container garden to minimize the number of times you need to water. You can pick up this product at your local garden center. All you need is a small spoonful or two of polymers for a container of soil.

Here is a list of heat tolerant annual flowers that will stay bright and showy no matter how steamy it gets: calliopsis, cockscomb, dusty miller, lantana, Mexican sunflower, nierembergia, portulaca, salvia, sunflowers, vinca and zinnia.

Watering Can

Go Native
Native plants are flowers, trees and shrubs that have evolved in a region over thousands of years, adapting to the changing environment. They’ve thrived on their own their own for centuries, through all kinds of weather extremes. When it comes to low maintenance you can’t go wrong with a native plant. Because they are tough, they can sometimes become garden thugs, so before you plant a variety check with a local garden center or cooperative extension to make sure it is not considered invasive. A few of my favorites for sunny flower borders are: blanket flower, black-eyed Susan, baptisia, Joe-pye weed, liatris, purple coneflower, goldenrod, penstemon and coreopsis.

Mulch
To a plant, organic mulch is nature’s sunscreen. By covering exposed ground with a 3 to 4 inch layer of shredded hardwood, leaves, bark, peat moss, straw, compost or grass clippings, you add a protective layer that keeps the soil cool, conserves water by reducing evaporation and discourages weeds. A red flag that you need to add mulch is soil that tends to crust or crack, especially after a rain or watering.

Mow Smarter
Taller grass shades the ground from sun and helps keep moisture in the soil. It also encourages deeper root networks, helping your lawn withstand drought and disease. For cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue and perennial ryes, mowers should be set at 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches. Warm-season grasses, such as zoysia and Bermuda, should be maintained at 2 inches.

Watering
It breaks my heart to see someone standing in a yard, hose in hand, spraying plants with water. This won’t begin to quench a plant’s thirst. A really long, slow drink of water every 3 to 7 days is much more beneficial because it allows moisture to get all the way down to the roots.

If you are conserving water, it’s best to devote your attention to your most recently planted trees and shrubs. Those planted this spring, and even 2 and 3 years ago have yet to establish a strong root system. Deep soak these plants every 10 days.

Deep soaking can be done with an ordinary garden hose set on a slow trickle. The key is to apply small amounts over a couple of hours. Or you can place a five-gallon bucket with 4 to 5 tiny holes in the bottom near the trunk. Fill the bucket with water and it will slowly drip around the tree over time. You will need to apply 5 gallons for every year the tree has been in the ground, up to a maximum of 20.

A lawn requires 1 1/2 inches of water per week to stay actively growing. If your community is under watering restrictions, you may have to let your lawn go thirsty. Most varieties of grass will go dormant and turn brown, but when rains return they usually recover.

Learn more about best watering practices by watching the video below!