Water has now become one of the world's most precious commodities, so we all need to become more water-wise. However, this does not mean we have to say goodbye to our beautiful gardens - we just have to change our strategies. Try some of these simple ways to save water in the garden.
Drip systems can save a huge amount of water wastage in the yard and garden. As the water is being dripped in slowly at root level, the water gets to where it is meant to without running off or evaporating. Drip systems also discourage the growth of weeds and fungal diseases of your plant's leaves. The most cost-effective drip irrigation is a soaker hose that you connect to your tap. Care must still be taken not to leave it on for too long and not to water on banned days. You may also have to move the hose around your garden or alternatively, set one up on each garden bed and then just change the appropriate connections at the tap or faucet.
More permanent drip irrigation systems are available at more cost. However, the cost can be minimized by up to 50 percent if you are prepared to install the system yourself.
Collect water from around your home to water your garden. Some folks are now using the graywater from their washing machines to irrigate their lawns and gardens. Be sure to use environmentally friendly laundry products if you are planning on doing this. Other easy ways to utilize water is to save the water in the sink that you wash your fresh produce in and use it for your plants. Another great idea is to collect the water coming out of your showerhead until it warms up in a bucket for garden use.
Rain water tanks are becoming increasingly popular as a way to keep the garden irrigated without using your town's water supply. If you do not have a tank, why not use any wading pools or large vessels for catching some extra water?
Self-watering hanging basket planters are an excellent way to stop water wastage. Many of these planters only need topping up once or twice a week, and the great benefit is that your plants will never suffer from overwatering. There are many styles, sizes and colors to select from, but the the basic principle remains the same: There is a reservoir of water at the bottom of the container, and when the soil becomes dry, the reservoir tops it up. Self-watering pots can be used for a huge variety of plants, flowers and vegetables, both indoors and out.
If you prefer ceramic planters, have them treated to prevent them being porous to water. This will cut down immensely on the water usage as the water will not be able to be absorbed through the planter. Using water-absorbent crystals is another fantastic way to help with water loss in potted plants.
Mulch is not only a great way to ensure that your garden needs less watering by providing a layer of insulation, but if you take a little trouble when laying it down, you can also have a weed free garden. How? Simple. Lay a thick layer of wet newspapers or magazines over the weeds and the soil that needs covering. Then lay down at least an inch of mulch. The weeds have trouble growing through the layer of paper. Eventually the paper breaks down and builds up your soil. If you want an ever better system, you can lay down plastic weed matting under the wet newspapers, but this can prove costly. If the newspaper layer is thick enough, it will still work effectively.
Follow local regulations. No matter where you live, this is a must. In areas where watering your garden is banned, follow some of our handy hints on collecting water from around your home to use for your garden.
Plant more appropriate shrubs and lawns. More and more drought-resistant lawns are being developed. These can be an effective way to save on the water that your garden needs. Visit any nurseries in your area that specialize in local plants, which are generally better adapted and often are less needy than imports. You do not need to have a cactus garden to save water - just start planting smarter.