6 Steps to Reduce Water Needed In My Garden

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Water conservation is an important consideration in gardening. Water is the biggest monetary investment for the urban gardener and outdoor water use is the first place to be cut in times of water shortages. What can we do to reduce our garden water needs? Here are six options. Use one or all of them and watch your garden water needs decrease!

reduce water in my garden
One of the many varieties of Sedum are great for a ‘dry’ flower bed.

1. Plant native and climate tolerant species.

Native plants or those bred to tolerate local conditions require a lot less time, energy and watering from you.  Even in a moist climate you may have a site in your yard that is sheltered & dry.  Plant drought tolerant species rather than watering continually.

Plant native and climate tolerant species.
Grass clippings mulch my veggie garden and wood chips my flower beds.
Grass clippings mulch
Grass clippings mulch my veggie garden and wood chips my flower beds.

2. Mulch and/or insulate your gardens as well as your containers.

You can use just about anything as a mulch. I prefer to use organic materials that will decompose and improve soil conditions over time such as wood chips, compost, newspaper, or lawn clippings (not treated with weed killer!), but you could also use plastic, old carpet remnants or shredded rubber. For containers, consider nesting smaller pots inside a larger one and filling the void with sphagnum moss or some other mulch.  Terracotta pots are notorious for evaporation.  Consider lining them with a smaller plastic pot to keep the look but stop the water loss.

An inexpensive timer saves big on water!
An inexpensive timer saves big on water!

3. Install a timer.

If you have to make one purchase to decrease your water usage, I would suggest a timer. A timer prevents wasting water and money by forgetting the hose on. More than once I have walked to the garden to find a lake instead of a garden! It also gives you the ability to regulate the exact amount of water your plants are getting without you being tied to the end of the hose!

Rain barrels with gravity feed for easy use.
Rain barrels with gravity feed outlet.

4. Install a rain barrel.

Rain is free water; put it to work for you! You can purchase rain barrels at most garden centers or make your own. A large garbage container or food grade barrel placed at the bottom of a drain spout is a simple inexpensive option. Install a water valve, low on the barrel, for easy gravity watering. Be sure to place your barrel(s) on level ground so they do not tip over easily and cover them to keep insects, critters and children out. Remember safety first with water! It only takes an inch or two of water for a child to drown.

My friend uses drip irrigation with fabric 'mulch' in her garden.
Drip irrigation with mulching plastic.

5. Use Low Water-Use Watering Systems.

Soaker Hoses and drip irrigation systems are laid on top of the ground and possibly mulched over, but are not typically buried in the soil. They release water along the length of the hose and provide water directly onto the soil with little water loss to evaporation compared to a sprinkler.

-Point source systems may be buried or laid on top of the soil. They provide water directly to the base of individual plants. These systems work well for perennial garden beds where plants are not rearranged every year. They also have little water loss to evaporation.

6. Water smart.

Morning is the best time of day to water. The temperatures are at their lowest and the humidity is usually at its highest so there is less evaporation. Train your plants to reach deep by watering long and slow on an infrequent basis. Plants with deep root systems need less watering and are less susceptible to drought.

Leave a note here on Tip Junkie or contact me at The Full Circle Gardener if you have questions about garden watering or water conservation.  Next time we will spice up our lives by planting an herb garden! Until next week, Happy Gardening!  🙂

How to Garden Series:

Step 1 – Ground Site Selection
Step 2 – Improve Gardening Soils
Step 3 – Garden Beds, Pockets and Pots 101
Step 4 – What To Plant
Step 5 – Gardening with Children
Step 6 – Top 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow From Seed
Step 7 – Cut Flower Gardening 101
Step 8 – Container Gardening 101
Step 9 – How to Grow a Salsa Garden
Step 10 – How to grow a Perennial Garden
Step 11 – How to Grow Strawberries In Your Garden
Step 12 – Six Steps to Reduce Water Needed in My Garden
Step 12 – Five Best Herbs Go Grow for Kitchen Use
Step 13 – Waging War on Weeds
Step 14 – Plant and Gardening Pest Control
Step 15 – How to Preserve Water in your garden
Step 16 – 7 Ways To Store Vegetables  {from garden}

Hi, I’m Stacy. I blog at The Full Circle Gardener out of my love of gardening and plants, and my desire to share that love with those around me. I have a BS in Botany and an MS in Ecology, but more importantly, I grew up helping my parents garden and started gardening for my own family in 2005.  Join me in my adventures as a “full circle” gardener… starting seedlings, planting, tending, harvesting, composting, processing and of course eating the wonderful fruit of my labors!

7 comments

  1. Comment-Anonymous Melissa Schwarberg

    This year we made rain barrels for the first time. It rained so much in April and May and I knew that the summer months would be dry. So I went to the daycare down the street and asked if I could take their milk jugs that they would have recycled. I collected them for a few weeks and filled them up. So we just had a period of about 18 days with no water and even when my barrels went dry we still had plenty of water. I was so glad that I came up with that idea.

  2. Comment-Anonymous Stacy

    Great idea Melissa. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  3. Comment-Anonymous Dining Room Table Pads

    Hey, just looking around some blogs, seems a pretty nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my sites but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it?

  4. Comment-Anonymous Gas Patio Heater

    There are some really excellent water saving tips here and this is very timely. I live in the UK and we are currently bracing ourselves for hosepipe bans throughout much of the country due to low water supplies.

  5. Comment-Anonymous Kevin @ Indoor Plant Care

    I like the using the rain idea. This makes perfect sense to use something that is free. I wish most people would use your Indoor Plant Care tips. Thanks.

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