Create a Garden Plan in Early Spring
Taking time to plan your garden with consideration for varying climate conditions will help to conserve water – and save time and money.
Before plant shopping:
- Take stock of the zones in your yard and choose plants that will tolerate the various conditions: hot/sunny, cool/shady, moist, dry, etc. For example, if you have a hot, dry zone, carefully select plants that can endure hot, dry conditions.
- Wherever possible, choose plants that are drought-tolerant and native to our area, to reduce water use by up to 50%.
- View list of drought-tolerant plants for Massachusetts landscapes.
- View list of native Massachusetts wildflowers.
Use Compost & Mulch!
- Add organic matter such as peat moss, compost, and grass clippings to improve soil structure and help with water retention. Incorporate organic matter 12”-18” deep into the garden beds.
- Once plants are in the ground, make sure to spread mulch around the base to help retain moisture.
- Mulch flowers, shrub beds, and trees with pine bark mulch.
- Use salt marsh hay or newspaper (no color pages) for your vegetable gardens.
- Ground covers, such as ivy or pachysandra, also prevent evaporation around established shrubs and ornamental trees.
- Get more details on how to compost!
Try Different Irrigation Methods
Much of the water that is dispersed through sprinklers and hoses evaporates before it ever reaches the roots of the plants. Try these more efficient methods:
- Rain barrels are useful for smaller gardens that don’t require a lot of water and that are located near the barrel.
- Place the rain barrel under your downspout, 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 or soaker hoses for shrubs, gardens, and plant beds.
- Drip irrigation consists of a series of nozzles that deliver small quantities of water at low pressure directly to the root zones of plants.
- A soaker hose is a canvas or rubber hose with perforations. It is most effective when it lies on top or slightly below soil level and mulch is placed over the soil and hose.
- Redirect downspouts toward plants or shrubs. Use flexible downspouts for a more controlled flow of water.
- Place ice cubes in hanging baskets, planters, and pots to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
- Water plants deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes. Water until the soil is moist 3-4 inches below the surface.
Plant a Rain Garden to Help Prevent Water Pollution
If water tends to collect in your yard or roadway during a rainstorm, you may want to consider redirecting it toward a rain garden.
A rain garden is a depressed area in the landscape, planted with grasses and flowering perennials, that collects rainwater from parking areas, driveways, walkways, and roofs.
During rainstorms, runoff enters the rain garden and slowly filters into the ground, instead of running off directly into storm drains, ponds or lakes. The runoff is filtered and cleaned naturally by soil and plants, and reduces the amount of polluted runoff entering our waterways, keeping our environment healthier!
When rainwater from the street flows directly into storm drains, it carries pollutants, like motor oil, gasoline, fertilizer, pesticides, and dog waste, from the road into our waterways – untreated.
Contaminated stormwater runoff is the number one cause of water pollution in the streams and ponds of the Neponset River Watershed. Rain gardens are a great way to intercept and filter that polluted water!
Find more water-efficient garden info at:
- The WaterSense Water-Smart Landscapes guide
- Greenscapes Guide (w/credit to WaterSmartSouthShore.org)
- Learn about “smart irrigation” water conservation techniques for your lawn.
Pay Attention to Drought
For the latest news on drought in our area, view the U.S. Drought Monitor, a website managed by the University of Nebraska, which is updated each Thursday.