The Art of Waterwise Gardening
by Melinda Myers
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[May 30, 2018]
a few changes in your garden care can yield great benefits. Less
time and water wasted means more time for you to relax or entertain
friends and family in your beautiful landscape. Water is critical
throughout the life of a plant, but deciding when and how much water
to provide each plant can be a bit overwhelming. Make this task
easier and conserve moisture with these simple strategies.
Start by matching plants to your growing
conditions. Selecting plants suited to your climate, soil moisture
and average rainfall means healthier, better-looking plants and
productive gardens with less supplemental water.
Incorporate organic matter such as compost into the soil prior to
planting. This helps the soil more efficiently absorb rainfall and
irrigation water. Less runoff means less water wasted. Adding
organic matter also increases the ability of fast-draining soil to
hold moisture, extending the time between watering.
Mulch the soil with organic materials such as shredded leaves,
evergreen needles or woodchips. Mulching helps conserve moisture
while suppressing weeds and improving the soil as it decomposes.
Plus, you’ll be recycling landscape trimmings back into the
landscape and the environment. It’s green gardening!
There will still be times you need to lend nature a hand. Sprouting
seeds, young seedlings and new transplants need consistent moisture
to grow and establish a root system. Most annual flowers and
vegetables also need consistent moisture throughout the season.
Newly planted perennials, trees and shrubs also need more attention
and water than established plants with deeper roots able to absorb
more moisture. During extended dry periods, even established plants
will need supplemental water.
Providing the right amount of water at the right time can be a
challenge. Doing it efficiently to avoid wasting time or water can
help ensure your gardening success.
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Take the guess work out of watering with a drip
irrigation system like the DIY WaterWell Irrigation System Drip Line
Kit (gardeners.com). Drip irrigation systems allow you to apply
water to the soil right above the plant roots, exactly where it’s
Run a line next to each row of plants - or every 18” in planting
beds. The water slowly seeps through the holes and into the soil
below. The slow, steady flow moistens the root zone, encouraging the
development of deep, drought-tolerant roots.
Just turn on the faucet, set the timer and let the irrigation system
do the work. This reduces the risk of frequent, ineffective watering
which leads to shallow roots growing just below the soil surface
where they dry out quickly. High temperatures or missed irrigation
can stress shallow rooted plants, reducing their beauty and
The use of appropriate irrigation, mulching and organic matter can
make a huge difference in the quality of your landscape – and your
enjoyment of your garden!
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books,
Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How
to Grow Anything” DVD series and the
nationally syndicated Melinda’s
Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and
contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was
commissioned by Gardener’s Supply for her expertise to write this
article. Myers’s web site is www.melindamyers.com.