Hardly a day goes by that we are not reminded of the necessity to conserve water. Probably the quality and quantity of fresh water for the earth is one of our biggest challenges and concerns. Where does this leave the recreational gardener then? If we are planting food crops we are obviously justified, but what about flower gardens that are made for pure visual pleasure? My feelings are that sights of beauty and places of calm and serenity are also very necessary for the well being of mankind, however as gardeners we are responsible to use the precious resource of water with integrity and practice water conservation at all times. In easy terms, waste not want not, or you might say gardeners should feel comfortable to use water but never to abuse it.
A few simple water saving tips makes this easily possible. First of all garden with plants that are compatible with your natural environment. Primarily choose plants that will thrive in your climatic conditions of heat, soil, and natural rainfall. This way you will only have to supplement plants needs, not totally supply them. If you live in a hot arid area, stick to drought resistant plants. Leave the shade loving water hogs to coastal sites. Create shade in your garden by planting trees and erecting pergolas to reduce the effects of a hot scorching sun. Saving water is also easy with the addition of rain barrels to capture the rain water from your roof. This works well as a supplemental supply of water for hand watering containers.
Before planting enrich your soil with organic matter such as manure or compost, especially if your natural soil is on the sandy side. This will help your soil to absorb and retain the water that you do supply. Mulch your garden with natural bark or rock to help lock in the water that would otherwise be lost to evaporation. If you prefer grow a living mulch such as ground covers to accomplish the same results.
Probably the biggest loss of water in the garden is through your watering system. If you have an automatic system make sure your timer is set for the needs of each area of the garden. It is so much better to water each area a bit longer once a week than to water every bed every day for a short time. Deep watering will encourage your plants to develop strong deep root systems that will be more efficient for the plant’s health and vigor. Ensure there are no broken or leaky lines or spigots, and that your water is directed right to the plants roots and not your driveway. The same applies for manual watering systems. Check all hoses, connections and sprinklers for leaks and mend immediately. Prepare a schedule for the placement of your sprinklers and a time allotment according to the areas needs. Soaker hoses are better than overheads, however if you use overheads ensure they are watering only the necessary area. Water early in the morning or at night to avoid great loses through evaporation.
So, should gardeners all have to live with gardens of piled rock and gravel intermingled with the occasional half dead plant. Absolutely not! There are many way we can save water. Be aware and care how you use your water supply and enjoy your water saving gardens.