1. Plant Thoughtfully.
The plants you select, and where you plant them can make a big difference in the health and beauty of your garden, as well as in your water usage.
Choose drought tolerant varieties. They’ll continue to thrive during summer dry spells.
Use native plants, which are adapted to your summer climate, and therefore better able to withstand summer patterns of heat and drought.
Group plants together by their water needs. Put the drought-tolerant varieties together, and group the ones that need more frequent watering. That way, you won’t waste water on plants that can do without for another day or two. You can water each area only as often as needed.
2. Add soil amendments.
Improving your soil is one of the best things you can do to conserve water.
Soil with lots of organic matter will soak up more moisture, and hold on to it longer.
Organic matter allows roots to grow deep, and take better advantage of available water.
Healthy soil gives you healthy plants, which are better able to withstand the stresses of drought.
Mulch prevents water from evaporating, and helps keep it available to plants longer. Mulch also prevents weeds from growing and competing for available moisture.
4. Water efficiently.
Dawn is the best time to water, when it's coolest and the sun is low. You'll lose less to evaporation. Sunset is fine too, but having wet plants overnight may make them susceptible to disease.
Water slowly and infrequently. Instead of watering a little every day, water once or twice a week, and apply water slowly to avoid excessive run off. You want every drop to be absorbed and soak deep into the soil, where it will last longer, and encourage deep root growth.
5. Consider these additional helpful tools & techniques:
- Soaker hose. A soaker hose lays on the soil, so the water is released right where it's needed. Since soaker hoses drip slowly, they reduce run-off as well.
- Timer. A timer will help you get the right amount of water, at the right speed. Setting the timer means you won't have to remember to go out and turn off the sprinkler. If you have clay soil, it will need to be watered very slowly to soak in. A timer can help with that by turning the water on and off every 10 minutes to allow moisture to soak in without running off.
- Drip Irrigator-This is a handy way to water container plants and hanging baskets. Use it with a timer to automate the whole process.
- Soda bottles. Poke holes in plastic bottles, bury them with the neck sticking out, and fill with water. The water seeps out through the holes deep in the planting bed. No evaporation, no run off!
- A rain barrel will collect and save rain for you to use later where and when you need it. Why let all that precious rainfall roll off your roof?