Keep Your Garden Healthy in Dry Times
As a lifelong gardener, I sympathize with people who worry that they must watch their flowers and lawns wither in the name of water conservation. But I have great news: It’s possible to keep your garden and save water at the same time. Here are my top 10 tips for keeping your garden healthy while doing your part to conserve water.
1. Install a fertigation tank that contains biostimulants and plant foods. It can be connected to your sprinkler or drip-irrigation system and help you reduce water usage by up to 40 percent. A fertigation system injects micro doses of nutrients into your sprinkler system every time it waters, helping your soil and plants absorb water and food more easily and effectively. It requires an upfront investment, but will pay for itself through water-cost savings.
2. Install a modified drip system in your garden to give your plants a regular supply of water at a slow pace. This should help you conserve up to 30 percent more water compared to a standard sprinkler system. While city ordinances restrict people from watering their gardens more than three times a week, drip systems are exempt from this ordinance.
3. Mix Soil Moist crystals into your soil, about 1 pound per 100 square feet. These little crystals look like salt, but expand about 300 to 400 times in size when they are exposed to water. They aerate the soil and help your soil retain moisture. They last three to five years and are available at most nurseries.
4. Mulch plants to help reduce the amount of water they need. You can purchase mulch at a nursery or make your own by using fallen leaves from your yard and grass clippings. A mulching lawn mower is excellent for this.
5. Spray a liquid penetrant into your lawn and garden. This is another great way to aerate your soil and save water. Liquid penetrants don’t feed your plants, but they help them grow by injecting more air into the soil. This allows more nutrients to get to the roots of your plants and lawn, which also allows your plants to grow deeper roots and absorb more water.
6. Water your garden and lawn in the early morning to wash nitrogen-f illed dew into your plants. This also gives the water a chance to seep into the ground before the sun evaporates it.
7. Check your sprinkler system to make sure it doesn’t have leaks and that pop-ups are twisted in the correct direction. Often when pop-up sprinklers get old, they leak profusely and rob water pressure from other pop-ups.
8. Use a pressure regulator to monitor the pressure of your sprinkler system. Most yards have their water pressure set much too high for the system to work effectively. If the pressure is too high, you’ll end up watering the air and not your plants. 90 PSI is the standard pressure for a proper sprinkler system.
9. Invest in a smart irrigation clock. These clocks are connected to Wi-Fi and help you determine when to water next based on weather forecasts and moisture sensors placed in the ground. If that sounds too complicated, you can invest in a moisture meter for $8-$10 and probe your soil to find out whether it’s time to water.
10. Use landscape plants that are drought tolerant. In addition to California natives and succulents, there are hundreds of appealing evergreen choices that do not require much water.
Ted Howard Gardens