Get the most out of every drop
As we get into the thick of summer and the temperatures start to rise, I start to think about the best and most efficient ways to water my garden. To be completely honest, I don’t always follow all of these guidelines, but they are good things to consider if you want to be more efficient when watering your garden. You can follow one of these suggestions or all. Whatever makes life a little easier for you.
How you Water is Important
Whether you are using a watering can or garden hose you want to try to water close to the soil, near the base of the plants. This ensures that more water goes directly to the plants’ root systems.
When you Water Matters
The best time of day to water your plants is early in the morning. This gives plants plenty of time to absorb the water before the mid day heat sets in and speeds up evaporation.
If you water in the middle of the day your water will evaporate more quickly and you will end up needing to use more water overall in order for the plants to get the irrigation they need. Basically, you’ll be doing more work and getting less return. Nobody likes that.
Watering in the evening or later in the day can also be a bad idea because any water that gets on the foliage of your plants may not have time to dry before night fall and this can attract certain pests and diseases.
How much and How Often
Once your plants are established try watering more thoroughly less often. Watering often with less water will encourage shallow root systems on your plants. Make them work for it! If you water more deeply less often the roots will reach further to get to the water deeper underground. This is going to make for much more efficient water usage as well as stronger, more productive plants.
If you aren’t sure if its time to water, try digging down into your soil a bit. You can use a garden trowel or dig with your hand. If the top layer is dry but the soil is still pretty moist lower down then you can wait to water. If most of it is dry, go ahead and give it a good thorough watering.
Tips to Get the Most out of Every Drop
Putting down a thick layer of organic material has a few benefits. First, it helps keep the soil cooler, which in turn slows the rate of water evaporation. This means having to water less often. Woo hoo!
Organic materials can also help feed plants by replenishing essential nutrients in the soil and help keep weeds to a minimum. You can use compost, straw, hardwood mulch, or hay.
Soaker Hoses and Drip Irrigation:
Soaker hoses are porous hoses that you can snake around your plants on top of the soil. Drip irrigation is flexible tubing with holes that allow water to slowly trickle out.
Both soaker hoses and drip irrigation deliver water directly to the plant’s root system where it is needed most. Which means they are much more efficient than sprinklers. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation can help save as much as 30%-50% of water compared to overhead watering.
Rainwater is great for plants. Not only is it untreated, unlike water from your garden hose, but it also is a great way to conserve water and save you some money on your water bill. Rain barrels are ridiculously easy to install on your downspouts. They are also great to use on your potted flowers or herbs as well as your indoor plants.
Boo! Weeds are competition. Keep your garden relatively clear of weeds so every precious drop of water goes to the roots of your fruits and veggies. There are a few ways to help cut back on weeds. Putting down compost or other organic material can help keep weeds at bay.
Another great way is installing soaker hoses or drip irrigation. These deliver water directly to the plants rather than sprinklers that water your entire surface area of your garden. Watering only the area you need keeps the soil dry in other areas where weeds may otherwise thrive.
Do you have any great tips on watering or more ideas to conserve water? If so, let me know in the comments below. I love good water saving tips!