According to National Geographic, as much as 60 percent of a household’s water footprint is used in the yard. This is not only putting a strain on the environment, it’s pushing up your water bill, too. If you’re concerned about your own water usage, don’t worry because there are many techniques and tricks you can use to create a water-wise yard that’s still easy on the eye. Here are four areas you can look into.
High-quality soil beds can save you a great deal of water, so improving your soil is a must. Start by tilling the soil. Use a spade or hoe to break up and turn over soil down to a depth of six inches. If you don’t do this, you might have a hard layer of soil that prevents water seeping deeper into the earth. Tilled soil also allows plant roots to grow deeper so that the plants can absorb water from these lower areas, even when the topsoil is dry. Adding organic matter to the soil is important too, as this will keep water in place rather than allowing it to run off. If you have more money to invest, you can get your soil analyzed, to see exactly what you should add in order to improve it.
Improving your soil to increase water retention is all well and good, but it will be pointless if the heat of the sun simply evaporates the water. This is where mulch comes in. Mulch is simply organic matter such as decaying leaves or bark that you layer on top of the soil. It’s porous so water seeps through, but provides shade for the soil, protecting it from the sun. You can also manufacture a shaded area in your garden in which to showcase drought-tolerant, shade-loving plants. Such plants need a lot less water and maintenance than your average plants, so they are great choices for a water-conserving garden. They also look fantastic—check out these great options at Savvy Gardening. You can use fencing, larger shrubs, or trees to create a shaded area.
Many green-fingered enthusiasts make plant choices purely with appearance in mind; however, if you do this, you may inadvertently end up with some very water-hungry plants. Look up water-wise plants that are native to your area, and make your plant selections from these. Minimizing your lawn space is also an important part of conserving water in the yard because grass is more water intensive than most plant beds, needing 1 to 1.5 inches of water each week to maintain its lush, green appearance. This forces you to be more creative. Rather than the standard layout with the lawn in the middle and plants round the edge, you can try more interesting shapes.
If you live in a drought-prone area, you’ll need to follow the principles of xeriscaping. With xeriscaping, you take water conservation into account in every step of your planning process. Improving the soil, limiting lawn space, and making water-wise plant choices takes you a long way, but you also need to think about irrigation. A simple option is to use drip irrigators around your flower beds which release water slowly and gradually—either set up per plant or spaced evenly throughout a flower bed. A more intensive approach is to use landscaping, creating grades, mounds, and trenches that direct rainwater toward your most water-hungry plants, which would usually be your shade tree, if you have one. You can also use traditional rainfall capture using buckets and barrels to make sure no water goes to waste.
There are a lot of options for making a water-conserving garden, from simple and cheap options like adding mulch, to larger projects like adding grades to your land. Whatever your budget and time constraints, there’s something you can do. So make a plan, put on your garden gloves, and get to work!
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