Here are just a few of the easy and affordable ways to conserve
water while growing a beautiful garden.
Grow plants suited to your
climate, and this includes the average rainfall for your area.
Select drought-tolerant plants that, once established, require less
ongoing care. Consider native plants like coneflower, yucca and
penstemon as well as native and noninvasive ornamental grasses.
Be sure to group moisture-loving plants together and near a
source of water. You'll save time and water by concentrating your
efforts on fewer plants. Move containers to the shade or provide
additional shade during hot, dry weather to reduce the plant's water
Use organic nitrogen fertilizers like
Milorganite. This slow-release
fertilizer encourages slow, steady growth that requires less water.
Plus, it will not burn plants during hot dry weather. It simply
stays in the soil until the growing conditions, moisture and
temperature are right for the plants.
Install a rain barrel or two to capture rain for watering
in-ground and container gardens. Or place a rain barrel near your
garden and collect rain directly from the sky. Use this water to
supplement your garden's moisture needs during drought.
Decorate or mask the barrels with vines, decorative fencing,
containers or nearby plantings. And check with your local
municipality, as several states and communities have banned rain
harvesting on private property.
Use soaker hoses and drip irrigation to save water by applying
the water directly to the soil where it is needed. Consider
connecting your rain barrel to a soaker hose in a nearby garden.
Just open the spigot and allow gravity to slowly empty the water
throughout the day. Check to make sure water is evenly distributed
throughout the garden.
[to top of second column]
And always water thoroughly and less frequently to encourage
deep, drought-tolerant roots. Add a layer of organic mulch like
shredded leaves, evergreen needles or herbicide-free grass clippings
to conserve moisture and keep roots cool. As these break down, they
add organic matter to the soil, improving the water-holding ability
of sandy and rocky soils.
Allow lawns to go dormant during droughts. Apply one-fourth inch
of water every three to four weeks during extended droughts. This
keeps the crown of the plant alive while the grass remains dormant.
Minimize foot and equipment traffic on dormant lawns, and do not
Incorporate one or more of these techniques to your garden care
this season. You'll conserve water while creating healthier and more
[By MELINDA MYERS]
Melinda Myers, a gardening expert, TV
and radio host, author and columnist, has more than 30 years of
horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books,
including "Small Space Gardening
(Can't Miss)" and the "Midwest
Gardener's Handbook." She hosts The Great Courses "How
to Grow Anything" DVD series and the nationally syndicated
"Melinda's Garden Moment" segments. Myers is also a columnist and
contributing editor for
Blooms magazine. Her website,
offers gardening videos and tips.