Sustainable gardening is all about gardening in a smart and eco-friendly way that benefits your plants and the planet. One important part of gardening sustainably is conserving water. Even in regions where water seems abundant, water conservation is still essential. Though water is a renewable resource, our water sources are not infinite and the increased chemical treatment of water increases greenhouse gas emissions. As our water sources get smaller every year, it’s important to save water where you can.
A great place to start your water conservation is in your garden and landscape. Not only will you save money on utility bills, but you will meaningfully contribute to the protection of the planet. Check out our top water-saving tips below!
Ditch the Sprinkler
Sure, it’s easy to set out your sprinkler and forget about watering your garden at all. However, much of the water sprayed from the sprinkler is evaporating before it even can soak into the ground. Some of this water even evaporates before it hits the ground! Not only does this wasteful practice hurt your wallet, but it can also hurt your plants. When a sprinkler wets down the plants’ leaves, it causes the plants to become vulnerable to molds and fungus. There’s no reason to waste water, money, and plants for the sake of convenience when there are plenty of low-maintenance watering practices that are good for the environment, your garden, and your budget.
What’s better than using what Mother Nature offers? Consider installing a water tank, a rain barrel, or a covered cistern to catch roof runoff to water your plants. Rain barrels can collect and store more free water than you think. This effectively directs rainwater right where you need it be: the plants in your garden! Rather than pooling around your house, you can use the collected rainwater to irrigate your plants when they need it.
Recycle Household Water
Catch and save water from household chores to use in the garden. Instead of pouring the pot of water down the sink after boiling vegetables or pasta, save the cooled water in a milk jug or in a bucket to pour into your garden. This water will be rich with nutrients and even fertilize your plants. Another unusual way to save water is to recycle the water from your fish tank. When cleaning your fish tank, pour the nitrogen and phosphorus rich water into your garden instead. Finally, another good water-saving option within the household is to put plastic buckets in your shower to collect excess water while you are waiting for the temperature to warm up.
Make Your Own Compost
Composting is the process of turning organic waste, like food scraps and yard clippings, into a vitamin-rich fertilizer that can help gardens and yards flourish. Good compost locks in moisture and retains the nutrients needed for plants to flourish. As a result, you’re plants stay hydrated for longer and need less water. The scope of your compost can be as big or small as you want it to be. Whether you simply keep a scrap bucket in the kitchen or have an intricate system in your backyard, composting is viable for all homeowners. To learn more about how to get started, check out Fawn Organics’ article on composting.
Add a Layer of Mulch
Mulching is one of the best water-saving methods you can employ in your garden. Up to 70% of water can evaporate from the soil on a sunny day, that is, only if there is no protective layer of mulch to protect the soil. A layer of mulch protects the soil and effectively slows down water evaporation. About 2 to 3 inches of mulch helps the soil retain moisture and reduces weed sprouting.
Choose Native and Drought-Tolerant Plants
Replace plants that require a lot of watering with native plants that perform well in your area or with drought-tolerant plants. Native plants are plants that grow naturally in your region. They are easier to grow and sustain because these plants are already suited to the climate, soil, and rainfall in your area. As a result, these plants generally require less effort to grow and maintain. In addition, consider adding some drought-tolerant plants to your garden, such as aloe, artichoke, lavender, or succulents.
Consider Your Garden Design
A great water-saving design method is to arrange your plants closely together in the garden. As a result, shoulder-to-shoulder, these plants create shade over the soil to slow down water evaporation. Acting much like mulch, this saves more water in the soil and suppresses the growth of weeds. Another water-saving design method is to group your plants according to their water needs. Keep plants that need a lot of water together and keep plants that need little water together. As a result, you know which areas of your garden need more or less water.
Monitor the Weather
Lastly, keep an eye on the forecast. Nothing is more wasteful than watering your plants in the morning only for it to rain in the afternoon. Maximize nature’s free water as much as possible! Not only is this strategic, it is also sustainable!
What do you do to save water at home? Let us know in the comments!