Every homeowner wants to relax and draw inspiration from a beautiful garden. Imagine the fresh air, the colorful flowers and butterflies, and the healthy vibe a garden provides. Gardening is a healthy and fun activity for you and your family — a great way to teach your children how to love and take care of nature. However, while you strive to have a beautiful and functional garden, you notice that your water bill tends to increase as you grow more plants and expand your flower beds. The good news is that there are ways you can conserve water while maintaining a healthy and gorgeous garden.
Here are some tips and tricks to gardening while reducing water usage:
Mulching Around Plants
Mulch serves as a protective layer on top of the garden soil to hold moisture. Mulching is one of the most effective ways to garden while reducing water usage or water loss. Mulch prevents water evaporation from the surface of the soil, which suppresses water-stealing weeds from growing. During the daytime, water evaporates from the soil at rates up to 70% without mulch! This makes mulch one of the most important parts of a water-saving garden.
Here are some tips to consider when mulching:
● You can use natural mulch such as bark chips, pine needles, and compost
● Use coarser mulch instead of fine mulch, as the later tends to become water-repellent
● Spread grass clippings and ground leaves on vegetable and flower gardens
● Inorganic materials, like landscaping paper, pebbles, and rocks are more permanent options (avoid using too much because they tend to heat up in some climates)
● Apply 3 to 5 cm mulch in a pot and 8 to 10 cm deeper in a garden bed
● Apply mulch on moist soil
Engage in Drought-tolerant Landscaping
Drought-tolerant landscaping means planting species that become dormant whenever soil water is unavailable and become active in the availability of water. Native plants adjust to a place's normal soil, rainfall, and climate, so they need little or no watering once established. You can find native plants at your local botanical garden.
Avoid thirsty plants such as fast-growing species, or species with large and broad leaves or high fertilizer needs. Broader leaves tend to lose more moisture as compared to narrow leaves. Newly installed plants also require more water than established plants. Engage in drought-tolerant landscaping by choosing plant species that need less moisture with low water requirements such as:
● Slow growing plants
● Established plants
● Small plants
● Plant varieties with narrow or small leaves
● Silver or grey foliage
● Hairy, leathery, fuzzy, or curly leaves
● Succulent plants
● Bermuda grass or buffalo grass
You can save money on the water bill by reusing water. This strategy is a practical solution that everyone can do. Now, you can confidently achieve a more beautiful and healthy garden by applying herbicides & pesticides, fertilizing, and properly watering your plants using reused water. Here's how you can reuse water:
● Install a water tank to catch rainwater
● Redirect rainwater roof runoff onto your garden
● Save cooking water (from boiling vegetables or steaming food), let it cool, and use this nutrient-rich water to water your plants
● Reuse your fish tank water that's rich in nitrogen and phosphorous to grow healthy plants
● Place thirstiest plants near the house so they can drink roof runoff
● Collect shower water by putting a bucket in the bottom of the shower
Create Porous Garden Paths
Gardening while reducing water usage is possible by creating porous garden paths to allow rainwater to seep deep into the ground, thereby nourishing the plant roots and preventing water from running off into the street. This gardening idea is also a way to create a more eco-friendly outdoor space. Here's how to create porous garden paths:
● Use spaced bricks
● Use gravel, non-mortared concrete pavers, and pebbles
● Line the garden path with landscaping paper or newspaper before piling the porous material to prevent weeds from growing between paving materials
Lose the Lawn
A green lawn drinks plenty of water. Plant drought-tolerant varieties such as buffalo grass or Bermuda grass instead of bluegrass or fescue. Keep the grass long to help shade the roots to avoid water evaporation and conserve water. Mow less often. If you need to mow, keep the height of the mower blade 3 inches from the ground to keep the roots of the grass shaded.
Water in the Morning
Watering in the early morning can help you save water because of less heat. Avoid watering at dusk or night time because wet foliage encourages mildew and fungus growth, such as white mold or sclerotinia.
Now you can achieve a healthy and beautiful landscape garden without hurting your budget. By being resourceful, creative, and informed, you can enjoy the great benefits of gardening without the high spike on your water bill. Happy gardening!
Edward Flanagan is the founder of Edward’s Enterprises, a handyman service & licensed general contractor that has been improving homes and providing facilities maintenance in Southern California since 1996. Their carpentry services include wood deck and patio cover repairs and replacements. Edward currently divides his time between Camarillo and Venice Beach, CA, and loves the 405.