Drought is shaping up to be one of the major factors at play in many areas of the United States and the world. Water restrictions happen more frequently and for longer periods of time. Making sure that you water your lawn and garden efficiently is both eco friendly and budget wise. Here are some tips to help make water conservation in the garden easy.
Make Water Conservation In The Garden Easy
The Best Time To Water For Water Conservation
Most water restrictions say you cannot water during the hours of 10 am and 6 pm, when evaporation is highest. In fact, a sprinkler can lose up to 40% of the water it puts out to evaporation before a drop hits the lawn. That means you are paying for almost twice as much water as you use! Who needs that?
While it is possible to water a lawn in the evening or at night, doing so is unwise. The vegetation stays wet much longer in the evening and fungus and mold can take hold. The best time to water your lawn and garden is between about 5 am and 8 am. The leaves dry gently as it gets warmer and are not as likely to host fungal or mold infections.
How Much To Water
Turf grass and ornamentals should receive an inch of water a week. You can tell how long your sprinkler has to run to do that by setting an empty can such as a tuna can or cat food can on the ground, running the sprinkler normally, and seeing how long it takes to get an inch of water in the can. That is how long you run the sprinkler in each location. If it rains, subtract that amount of water from what you put out that week.
Vegetables require water two or three times a week. The soil should be kept moist but not squishy for maximum yield. How much water that takes will vary by soil composition, so you will have to watch and see what works.
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The Best Method To Use For Watering
Sprinklers are by their nature inefficient. Some water will always be lost to evaporation. With sprinklers, the foliage gets wet, the vegetables get wet, and not as much water reaches the roots, where it is needed. To make them more efficient here are some steps you can take. Make sure your sprinklers do not put water out on the cement or other paved surfaces. If you have an irrigation system, you need to check each sprinkler head to make sure it is working properly, doesn’t send geysers into the air, and is pointed properly.
Drip irrigation is the gold standard of water conservation in the garden. Not everyone can afford it, particularly if your landscape is established. However, switching to a soaker hose, which sends water out with less evaporation, can help reduce your water bill significantly when compared to a sprinkler. A soaker hose works great in the garden to make sure that just the roots get wet without wasting water on the leaves and crop. Or you can do it the old fashioned way and bring the hose along the roots yourself. A drip hose is even better though because it allow the ground and roots to soak up the water slowly wasting less in run off.
Another Way To Reduce Evaporation To Conserve Water In The Garden
Another thing that will help conserve water in the garden is mulching flower and vegetable beds with three inches of mulch. The mulch forms a weed barrier and holds in the water. Double goodness! Each year, you add an inch of mulch. The bottom inch slower decomposes over the year, enriching the soil.
If you follow these water conservation tips, you should be able to keep your landscape looking good for less money! You can get more information on water conservation from your local water provider or your county extension agent.
Thanks to Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. a writer, master gardener, member of the Garden Writer’s Association, photographer, and woodworker for sharing these tips for water conservation in the garden with us. If you want to learn more about gardening, she has published a booklet with step-by-step instructions called “Preparing Your Vegetable Garden From the Ground Up” (affiliate link below).
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