Water Wise Gardening

Every one gardens differently and exploring these gardens offers us new ideas and twists on old ones. One of the key issues or challenges with gardening is the use of water. Everything is tied to it, even us. Being a good steward of the land starts right in our back yard. Here are seven key elements to keep in mind.

1.  Planning and Design:

Determine what parts of your garden get full sun and afternoon shade. Do you have low lying marshy areas, hilly gravel spots or a windblown site? This affects the plants you choose. Careful design enhances views, offers protection and determines just how much time you want to spend maintaining your garden


2.  Soil Conditioning:

Determining your type of soil, (loam, sandy, silt or clay), will help you understand what improvements you can make to improve your soil. Both mulching and additions of compost are a start.

3.  Watering:

Newly planted trees and shrubs need frequent watering the first year to get established. Once a twice monthly watering will sustain them through a drought period. Perennials, especially native choices, benefit from a year of deep watering, not over watering, in order to set out a good root system. Take advantage  of rain barrels. Look for designs that include lids to keep mosquitoes out and a garden hose attachment with a gravity feed will save hours of  watering by pail.


4.  Limit Grassy Areas:

Grass requires a lot of water. Lawns should be cut no shorter than three inches. Using deep rooted grass varieties will save water and look good all season. Some lawn mixtures will go dormant during long dry periods. Leave the grass clippings. They provide mulch and fertilizer.

5.  Fertilizers:

The continuous use of chemicals in a garden or on a lawn takes it toll on the soil. Look for fertilizers with more phosphorous and potassium to promote strong root growth and resistance to disease and pests. High nitrogen creates a demand for water.  Fertilizers like compost attract beneficial insects and earth worms that further enhance the soil.


6.  Pesticides and Herbicides:

Sometimes waiting a bit allows natural predators to move in and take care of unwanted insects. There are homemade recipes for both pesticides and herbicides that are less toxic to the garden. The key is to correctly identify the problem. Tips Weed control is best done with physical removal of the plants and then applying mulch. There is a long list of tips that include companion planting, bacterial pesticide, over seeding, and using vinegar on weeds. 


7.  Plant Selection:

Native plants attract wildlife, reduce the amount of water needed, and resist pests and disease