It’s easy to forget about drought in early spring, when all it seems to do is rain every day, but the weather has become more unpredictable over the years, and mid to late summer is often very dry. Now, more than ever, it’s important to factor a potential summer drought into your garden planning.
With just a little research into drought tolerant plants and efficient watering techniques, you can have a vibrant, colorful garden all season long, while conserving water at the same time. Creating a water smart garden will not only save water, but time and money as well!
Before heading out to the garden store or nursery, take stock of the zones in your yard and make sure to choose plants that will tolerate the various conditions: hot/sunny, cool/shady, moist, dry, etc. Wherever possible, choose plants that are drought tolerant and native to our area, to reduce water use by up to 50%.
When planting, make sure to first add compost to the dirt to help with soil water retention, and then once plants are in the ground, make sure to spread mulch around the base to help retain moisture.
Rather than using a conventional garden hose or sprinkler, consider these irrigation methods:
- Redirect your downspouts toward your plants or shrubs. Use flexible downspouts, found at most home improvement stores, for a more controlled flow of water.
- Place a rain barrel under your downspouts and collect the water for future use. Place the rain barrel on cinder blocks (about 2-3ft up) so that it’s easier to get a watering can underneath the spigot, and to create some water pressure. Multiple rain barrels can be connected together for maximum water saving. Most rain barrels hold 65 gallons of water.
- Use drip irrigation for shrubs, gardens, and plant beds, in order to apply water directly to the roots, where it’s needed most. Setting up drip lines takes a little bit of time, but once completed, one turn of a spigot is all it takes to water numerous plants fro an entire season.
- For hanging baskets, planters and pots, consider placing ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
It’s also generally a good idea to water your plants deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
For more information on creating a water smart garden:
Prevent stormwater runoff
If you tend to have a lot of water that collects in your yard or roadway during a rain storm, you may want to consider redirecting it toward a rain garden, which will help to divert the water into the soil, allowing the stormwater to slowly filter into the soil rather than flow directly into storm drains, ponds or lakes.
Lastly, always follow your town’s outdoor water restrictions. While a green lawn and colorful garden are nice, the priority of a municipal water supply is for public health and safety.