Watering your garden is a necessary task, but there are some things you can do to make it less tedious and better for the environment. Some of them are a little more involved than others, but there are some very simple ways to conserve water and still have a garden to be proud of.
Here are 15 ways to save water in your garden.
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1. Try drip irrigation
Instead of using your garden hose or a sprinkler to spray your vegetable garden, try drip irrigation instead. There are many ways to do this. Try laying a soaker hose or sprinkler hose between the rows in your garden or invest in a real irrigation system if you have the budget and space.
Drip irrigation is a great way to save water because you control exactly where it goes. Because you’re delivering water directly to the soil and the roots, there’s no runoff. Plus, you’re avoiding getting water on the foliage, which causes water loss due to evaporation.
2. Use mulch
Using mulch is probably one of the simplest things you can do to save water in your garden. By adding a layer of mulch around your landscaping or flowerbeds, you cover the surface of the ground.
After watering, the mulch prevents the moisture from evaporating quickly, and you get to make the most of the water you are using. A bonus is that mulch can also help prevent weeds as it blocks the soil from light, too.
3. Change how you mow your lawn
Make sure the blade on your lawnmower is sharp. When it is, it cuts each blade more cleanly, which leads to less water loss.
You should also let your grass grow a little longer between mowings and don’t cut it as short as you normally would. Longer grass means longer roots. When the roots go deeper into the soil, there’s more groundwater, which means you don’t have to water as often.
4. Use a rain barrel
Rain barrels are an excellent way to collect runoff from your roof gutters and use it to water your plants, grass, or garden. Invest in a simple rain barrel and set it up next to your downspout. Use the spigot to attach a hose or to collect water in a watering can.
If you have the budget, consider a rain cistern. Cisterns are essentially deluxe rain barrels. They’re better at keeping bugs out of the water and a lot of them have a pump so you can get a better water pressure.
5. If you have a sloped yard, water carefully
If your yard is sloped, there’s not always much you can do to change it. The incline makes it easy for water to either pool or run off into the street and into the drainage system, depending on which way your yard is sloped.
The easiest way to avoid this is to water carefully by applying only a little bit of water at a time. That way, you give it time to soak into the ground so there’s less likely to be any waste, pooling, or runoff.
6. Use a rain gauge
If you live in an area with sufficient rainfall, you might not need to water your plants at all. A rain gauge lets you determine how much rain has fallen.
Most plants and vegetables can get by with an inch of water a week, though this depends on a variety of factors, like the temperature, humidity, and type of soil. But, if you know how much water your plants have gotten from natural rainfall, you can adjust the amount of water you’re using appropriately.
7. Choose the right pots for potted plants
Thin plastic plant pots might be cheap, but they’re not very attractive. They’re also very thin, which means water evaporates quickly and you end up watering more frequently.
Switch to glazed terracotta or ceramic pots instead. These materials not only look much better, but they don’t lose water through the sides. You save water because you don’t have to water as frequently and you get a gorgeous pot to look at.
8. Use an adjustable sprinkler
Sprinklers are necessary, especially if you live in a hot, dry climate where you don’t get a lot of rain. Traditional oscillating sprinklers are popular, but they’re not the best option if you’re trying to be responsible with your water usage.
Instead, try an adjustable sprinkler. The idea is the same, but instead of having one water pressure and oscillating motion, adjustable sprinklers give you more options. Using various buttons and knobs, you can adjust the water pressure, pattern, and direction of the water.
This way, you only get water where you need it instead of also having to spray on the driveway or the street.
9. Consider making your porch or deck larger
By expanding your outdoor surfaces, you eliminate some grass, which in turn eliminates the need to water that grass.
People are expanding their decks and outdoor patios in all kinds of ways. It can be as complicated as hiring a contractor to design and build a deck that wraps around your home or something as simple as an elevated platform, gazebo, bricks, or a walkway made of pebbles. The less grass you have, the less water your yard needs.
10. Consider water needs when arranging planting and landscaping
If you’re planting a variety of different flowers and other plants, think carefully about how you group them. Research each plant to find out what its water needs are. Then, group the plants according to how much they need.
Some plants don’t need a lot of water while others do. If you mix everything up and water them all the same, some of them are actually getting too much water.
But, if you keep all the plants with low water needs together, you don’t need to use as much water.
You can even take this a step further by choosing only low moisture plants for your landscaping. There are a lot of drought-tolerant plants available that look great and don’t require as much water.
11. Place plants and other landscaping close together
If you have shrubs and other plants around your yard, try to plant them close together. The closer they are, the more they cover the soil. This prevents the moisture from evaporating. When the ground loses water more slowly, it doesn’t need to be watered as often.
And, just like when you add mulch, planting close together also helps prevent weed growth.
12. Save and reuse wasted water from inside the house
This approach is something not a lot of people thinks about, but there are many ways to save and reuse water in the home.
Some people get really into this approach, saving every drop they use when they let the tap run to get hot or if they’re brushing their teeth. But there are simple ways to do this, too.
If you run a dehumidifier in your home, use the water you collect in the garden or even the next time you wash your car. Do you have an aquarium? When you do your next water change, instead of pouring the water down the drain, use it to water your outdoor plants. The waste and minerals in the old tank water is actually very good for plants!
13. Do regular hose maintenance
Hoses often leak without you realizing, especially if you use a lot of connectors. One of the best things you can do is replace hose washers regularly. This ensures that water doesn’t leak out of any connections.
You should also make sure you put your hose away after using it and try to avoid letting it lay out in the sun for extended periods of time. Maintaining the integrity of your house is one of the best ways to avoid leaks and wasted water.
14. Avoid planting your garden in long rows
The idea here is to make watering your garden as efficient as possible. Long, wide rows of vegetables are often difficult to cover and take a longer time. Not only is it difficult to pull the hose through without damaging things, but it’s also easy to wastewater while you maneuver into the right spot.
Try planting in small blocks instead. Keep everything within three to four-foot blocks with space to walk through between them so you can make your way around them and water every area quickly and easily.
15. Invest in permeable surfaces
If you’re ready to make a big change, make the switch to a permeable driveway, sidewalk, or walkway. Permeable pavers and other building materials are a newer option. Instead of water running off of them, it soaks through. This means less runoff and less waste.
This type of project is a pretty big investment, especially if you have to tear up old surfaces to use them. But if you really want to do everything you can to save water, it’s definitely an option to consider.
That said, if you’re setting up a new fire pit or extending your porch, consider porous materials like gravel instead of concrete. Again, this type of material allows water to soak into the ground, eliminating waste.
As you can see, there are many ways to save water in your garden. Yes, some of them are a bit complicated and costly. We don’t blame you if you don’t want to rip up your driveway and swap the concrete for permeable pavers.
But there are some very simple things you can do to make a difference, too. Usually, it’s just a matter of being a little more thoughtful and proactive.