7 Ways to Conserve Water in the Garden
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Follow these steps to use water smartly and still keep your plants happy and healthy.
It’s possible to reduce outdoor water use by 20 to 50 percent with a few easy changes. To keep your water bill low and plants looking perky, try these tips from the National Garden Bureau and Gardener’s Supply Company.
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Improve the Soil
Supplement your soil with compost, chopped-up leaves or composted manure. These organic materials increase soil’s water-holding capacity. A good rule of thumb is to add one inch of compost per year. Check out these 10 amazing backyard compost products.
Give your plants a solid soak. While sprinklers do the job, a soaker hose works even better. It applies the water directly to the soil by the roots, so up to 90 percent is actually available to plants. Here’s how to build your own self-watering planter.
Just Add Mulch
Spread mulch. It prevents weeds from growing and soaking up all the water you add to the planting area. A layer of mulch provides the most bang for your buck. Organic mulches are best; try grass clippings free of weedkillers, evergreen needles and shredded leaves.
Be extra frugal and capture all the free water you can. Place rain barrels or a cistern at your downspouts. A 1,000-square-foot roof collects about 625 gallons of water from just one inch of rain. Learn how to plant a rain garden.
Prepare the Garden Site
Know the characteristics of your planting site, such as the amount of sun and shade it receives, soil type and wind conditions. Make a plan to group plants with similar needs, like these drought-tolerant flowers.
Shop with drought-tolerance in mind. Some plants get all the water they need from rain, so once established they require less attention. If you’re looking for perennials suited for drought conditions, your best bet is usually native plants that are adapted to your climate and soil type. Check out these drought-tolerant ground cover plants.
Remove the Competition
Keep up with garden chores. Healthy plants mean less work! When you stay on top of tasks such as weeding, thinning and pruning, you add to the health of your plants and in turn need to water less frequently. Up next, check out these 24 genius gardening hacks you’ll be glad you know.