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.
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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.