So far, the summer months have proven to be just a tad dry. The occasional summer thunderstorm is always welcome, making the leaves turn a vibrant shade of green. If you’re a gardener of any sort, from flowers to vegetables, a lack of rain combined with bright sun can be a little hard on your plants, not to mention your wallet when you get your water bill. Yes, of course the bill will go up during this time of year, but here are 10 easy tips to help you conserve water and manage your bill all summer long.
Whether you have acres of space or just a few feet, intensive gardening offers a host of benefits. By establishing a smaller area to garden, you’re able to concentrate your compost and irrigation in one area. Not only will you have more yield per foot, but you’ll also minimize weeds and conserve water in the process.
Just Add Mulch
One of the most effective ways to lock in moisture is to add mulch around the base of plants. Mulch serves as a protective layer, cutting down water evaporation by as much as 50%. Increasing the organic matter also provides tons of nutrients for your plants. It’s a win-win scenario.
Have you ever paid attention to exactly how you water your plants? Maybe you’re aiming high for the leaves, which may sound very peaceful, but does very little to effectively hydrate your plants. Instead, concentrate your efforts on the roots for long-lasting hydration.
Know Your Soil
Not only is it important to understand the nutrients of your soil, but turns out it’s just as important when you’re watering. Knowing whether your soil is sandy, clay or silty will give you a better idea of when to water and how much to water. The Royal Horticultural Society suggests watering sandy soil more often and clay soil less frequently.
Check Before You Water
Instead of just watering blindly every morning, take a peek below the surface of the dirt. This will help you gauge whether your plants actually need to be watered. While you’re there, take a look at your plants. Are they showing signs of water stress? (Wilting, bleached, off-color, etc.) Understanding their current situation will help you make the right decision.
Know Your Plants
Some plants such as thyme and rosemary don’t need as much water as larger-leaved herbs such as basil require. Understanding the needs of your plants can help you avoid over watering while also helping to improve the overall health of your plants.
Choose Pots Wisely
Those metal pots may look absolutely adorable on Pinterest but they heat up quickly. Clay pots are inexpensive but they are extremely porous. While these options may be aesthetically pleasing, they are guaranteed to draw moisture out of your soil. If you just can’t live without your picture-perfect pots, try adding a less porous (or less heat sensitive) pot inside. Now both your desire for a pretty garden and your plants’ desire to drink will remain fully quenched.
Try New Ways of Irrigating
Watering with a hose isn’t the only way to soak your garden. Try using inexpensive drip irrigation or soaker hoses, which water the roots directly and help to reduce evaporation.
Make a Rain Barrel and Reuse Your Water
When Mother Nature does unleash the skies, take full advantage! Installing a rain barrel system is not only inexpensive but a great way to save any water that comes your way. Another great option is to reuse cooking water and even bath water (aka grey water). The next time you boil or steam some vegetables, save the water to give your plants an extra boost (bonus nutrients included).
Check the Weather Forecast
Yes, I know it sounds stupid, but if it’s going to rain later in the day, don’t waste your time, money or water. If it looks like an extra hot day, make sure to water early in the morning or in the evening (just don’t water the leaves!) to reduce evaporation. Sometimes it’s the simple things that we forget!
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