Whether you’re in the middle of a summer heat wave or are just having a dry spell, it is always smart to have a water efficient garden.
Here are our top ten hacks for creating a water-wise garden.
- Mulch, mulch, mulch. Keep the soil covered at all times. This protects your soil from drying out, supports the soil microbiology and suppresses weeds. Use straw or other plants you can grow yourself, such as comfrey. You can also plant ground covers beneath fruit trees that will protect the soil. Remove weeds from around plants as they will compete for water. However if a bed is lying fallow, better it has weeds in it than bare soil.
- Have an efficient watering system. Drip irrigation below the mulch is the most water-efficient method. Using a timer can help ensure you don’t overwater.
- Water in the early morning or late evening. This way the water has time to sink into the soil before the heat of the day.
- Build up your soil. Make sure you have lots of organic matter in your soil by adding compost and manures. This allows the soil to retain the water when it rains rather than having it all run off.
- Slow the water down. Build you beds on the contour (so that they run across the slope, not down it) so that when water does enter your garden, it seeps into the beds and doesn’t run off. You can also create swales that gather water and allow it to sink into the soil.
- Water less often but more thoroughly. This way the water goes down deep into the soil, encouraging roots to go deep too.
- Aerate the soil. Use a broadfork or pitchfork to loosen the soil before you plant. Don’t turn the soil over as this destroys soil structure, just dig into the soil, push your fork back and forward a few times, then remove. This creates pathways into the soil for water to travel.
- Temporary shade. In some climates the temperatures can get so high that plants get burnt by the sun. By creating shade for the plants, you can protect them on extreme weather days. This can be with polypipe and shade cloth or even an old beach umbrella.
- Plant deciduous trees. Planting deciduous trees around the garden will create shade from the hot summer afternoon sun but wont stop the precious winter sun. Keep an eye on the tree and make sure it isn’t competing with water from the plants themselves.
- Collect water. Either install a rainwater tank or set up a greywater system, so that you can use your greywater from the house. Just be sure to only garden friendly products in the house.
What do you do in your garden? Share your tips in the comments below.