Water scarcity is not just a nationwide problem. It can be a very real threat on the domestic scene as well. Our home is our kingdom, our domain where many persons spend much time and energy working in the garden and caring for the lawns to produce beautiful blooms, fragrant scents, herbal delights and a bountiful supply of vegetables. But water shortages are becoming a real threat at the domestic scene, as well as nationally and regionally across the globe.
After having invested in plants, fruit trees, fragrant bushes and numerous bulbs, we want the delight of a full bloom, productive vegetable patch and luscious fruit. But to achieve all this, we need water. Summer time is more than fun in the sun. It is a time of water restrictions and now increasing water use charges right when we need the water the most. One solution that is easily adopted is to harvest the rainwater. Simply collect rainwater runoff. Even just placing all your buckets and empty plant pots out in the open will collect rainwater.
Some plants need more water while others are much more tolerant of dry conditions. But the bottom line is that all plants need water. When the plant is deprived of essential water, the plant cells will suffer stress and start to structurally collapse. There will be slower plant growth and even non-reversable root damage. Even after a period of stress due to water shortage, the plant may experience less vigorous growth and could be more susceptible to pests and disease.
Tips to Save Water in the Garden
Therefore, a good gardener needs many different ways to save water in the garden. Here are just some ways you can manage to save water and nurture your garden at the same time.
First and foremost, keep an eye out for leaky taps and hose fixtures. This may mean you need to replace aging hoses and fixtures. Next important move is to cover the ground. When the sun is high in the sky and the soil is bare, moisture is readily drawn out of the soil. On a really hot day, a square meter of bare soil can lose two litres of water to the air. So action is required to prevent this significant water loss. Select ground covering plants that will also help restrict weed access is one approach. Or cover the soil with organic mulch to help retain the moisture level in the ground.
Another obvious solution is to erect windbreaks. Wind can really dry out soil so you need to minimise the wind effect. Trees and shrubs do this naturally but it takes time for these plants to mature in size and strength to be effective. Be weary of solid wall structures as they block the wind yes, but redirect the wind also. Solid wall structures may create more turbulent air passage ways. As trees and shrubs mature, their root structure strengthens and penetrates deep down underground. Trees especially, will extract deeper water.
Selecting ideal plants for the area is most important. If you are in hotter, more arid zones, select more drought tolerant plants. Likewise, if you are in a wetter, moister zone, chose plants that appreciate these conditions. This means know the needs of your plants. Plant similar water demanding plants together will also make it easier for you to water the garden on demand.
The soil may need organic compost to be added so as to increase the soil water holding capacity. One can either buy compost or make your own compost. At the same time, one needs to aim for a good soaking or wetting of the soil rather than a daily sprinkling which is rather ineffective. Also, it is best to water early in the morning before the sun comes up and evaporates all one’s efforts. Evenings is also fine as long as it is not too humid and encourages mould.
Perhaps you are keen to invest in an irrigation system. This is good if well designed with trickle irrigation hosing laid on the ground close to the plant root areas rather than an aerial sprinkler system. Finally, use the water to care for your plants and use a broom to sweep the walkways and patios. Water is too precious to be hosing down these areas.
There really are lots of options and things to consider before watering your garden. But a keen gardener knows their plants and the plants’ water needs. And with some careful planning you can conserve water while using it effectively to water all at the same time.