There are so many good reasons to save water, including helping the environment (fresh water is a limited resource!) and saving you money. And since outdoor watering accounts for 30 percent of an average household’s water use (up to 60 percent in arid regions), conserving water will have long-lasting benefits, both for the planet and your pocketbook. So, are you ready to try your hand at water-saving landscaping? Then read on!
Tip #1: Get Plants to Water Themselves!
If window boxes are part of your new water conservation garden, you can save gallons of water and hours of watering time with self-watering window boxes. These stylish window planters are available in PVC, fiberglass, and vinyl. They include a built-in water reservoir that seeps water to plants when they need it, resulting in healthy plant growth that is never under- or over-watered, and giving you 2-3 weeks of rest from watering. This means you can go on vacation and come back to flourishing window gardens, and pat yourself on the back for not wasting a drop of water!
When it comes to saving water, sometimes all you need to do is look up. Collecting rain water* for watering is the perfect way to be part of the water cycle. But though rain water is natural, keep in mind that it collects particulates from the air, including chemicals, insects, bird droppings, and other things that make the water unsafe for drinking—but perfect for plant use. This is great news, especially since it’s been estimated that one rain barrel will conserve around 1,300 gallons of water in the summer months alone. And some states even offer rebate programs for implementing water-conserving processes like rain barrels, so there’s even more incentive to start using sky water!
*Note on rain collection, according to the Environmental Protection Agency: “Some states might have laws which do not allow collection of rainwater, so be sure to check with your state’s water resource agency before implementing a rainwater collection system.”
Up your watering game by installing drip irrigation, a watering system that literally “drips” water onto your plants in a slow and steady, automated process. The beauty of drip irrigation is that it focuses water where it’s needed the most: the roots. This means no water waste or root rot from overwatering. And, according to the California Native Plant Society, it also means saving an average of 3,000 to 6,000 gallons of water a year (per 1,000 square feet) on watering your garden. Plus, drip irrigation tubing can be easily moved or rearranged when planting and replanting.
It stands to reason that if you want to use less water, you should plant plants that don’t need as much. Drought-tolerant plants are a great option for your low-water garden, and save an average of 30 to 60 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet. And this low-water landscaping is also low-maintenance, as these types of plants require less pruning and fertilizing as well. And have we mentioned that they also suppress weed growth due to limited moisture in the area? Is there anything these plants can’t do?
Here is a partial list of drought-tolerant plants for your new water-saving garden:
Weeping Acacia Tree
Tip #5: Mulch It!
Adding mulch to your garden, including your planters and window boxes, helps the soil retain moisture, especially in dryer climates and seasons, when water evaporates quicker. It also reduces weed sprouting, promoting overall plant health without resorting to spraying toxic chemicals. Plus, mulching your garden protects roots from overheating, as it acts as a kind of “sunblock” for your plants. For optimal results, choose an organic mulch made from pine straw, shredded hardwood, or some other natural element, and add between 2-4 inches to your soil.
Pro Gardening Tip: To keep soil aerated and healthy, add some coconut coir to your plant beds. This natural material is pH-balanced and contains anti-fungal properties that promote healthy soil growth.