Making sure your garden gets enough water in the heat of summer can be tricky business.
Discover new ways for watering wisely to help preserve this precious resource.
1. Harvest rain
One of the best ways to water is by harvesting rain with a rain barrel for reuse in the garden. Installing a rain collection system, including those that attach to your home’s gutter downspouts, is an environmentally friendly way to access a free supply of water. A small rain barrel can collect upwards of 30 gallons. Just think how many thirsty plants you can water with that!
Look for rain barrels with planters on top and others that look more decorative, such as the rain catcher column above. Read about planting atop rain barrels.
Check out our rain barrels guide to find the type that’s right for your space.
If your area doesn’t get much rain, read on.
2. Link up
Hook up your sprinkler system to an irrigation timer and let the smart system handle all your watering needs. These can be operated from a tablet, smart phone, laptop or desktop for multiple zones around your outdoor space.
Blossom, pictured above, helps you save up to 30 percent on your water bill and practically pays for itself. The system automatically programs itself based on real-time local weather data to create an optimized watering schedule for your outdoor space. This means that on the sunniest, hottest days, Blossom will apply extra water to replenish dry soil. Blossom adjusts to irrigate less on cooler days. Blossom skips watering when measurable rain is in the forecast.
3. Soak roots
Try using drip irrigation or a soaker hose for watering. Both methods work as water conservation tools in the garden because they deliver moisture slowly to the root zone of plants.
Many soaker hose systems allow you to connect several hoses so you can reach the length you need in the garden. To use, just drape a soaker hose around your plants and bury it under mulch.
For drip irrigation, once you lay the tubing, it’s easy watering.
Hook up both systems to hose timers and forget about watering all together.
4. Keep tabs on weather
Check the weather regularly and know when rain is coming to save time and preserve water. Use an app on your smart phone or try a thermometer with a weather forecasting mode.
When it’s time to water, make sure you give your plants a good soaking only in the early mornings before the heat of the day.
5. Plan and plant right
Before you plant, plan your garden or additions to it and choose heat-hardy and drought-tolerant perennials and annuals with low water requirements. You’ll save on watering because these types of plants can take a bit of neglect.
Also choose plants that will thrive in your soil type and place plants in the proper lighting requirements in your outdoor space. If you’re not sure what type of soil you’re dealing with, test it. Use a soil test kit or send a soil sample to your local cooperative extension service.
A soil test helps you know what your garden needs, such as nutrients like potash, nitrogen and phosphorus. It will also tell you if the soil is too acidic or alkaline and if the pH needs to be amended.
6. Revamp your soil
Conserve water by layering in products that help retain moisture in the soil.
You could also try water-storing crystals. When it rains or when you water, the crystals absorb the moisture and release it to plant roots when needed. The crystals help protect plants from over- and under-watering, from heat and drought. Just mix the crystals with soil to reduce the amount of watering needed.
7. Wave a wand
Get to hard-to-reach places in containers, hanging baskets, window boxes and in your garden with a watering wand. Use one with an automatic shut-off valve so you’re saving water while navigating around your outdoor space.