- Water covers 71 percent of the earth's surface and without it, life as we know it would not be possible. Water is essential for the survival of all living organisms and how we manage our freshwater usage can affect our survival as a species. There are estimates that by 2025 more than half of the world's population will be facing difficulties due to the lack of available drinking water. You might be asking yourself what this has to do with gardening but if you are not irrigating your garden correctly, you might be contributing to this ever growing problem. If you are unsure how to use water more efficiently in your garden, there are a few tips that anyone can follow.
Choose The Right Type Of Irrigation For The Job
Rainbird ESP-EMT weather sensor. (rainbird.com)
Most of our properties are watered through a sprinkler irrigation system, drip irrigation system, or combination of both. Sprinkler heads are generally used for lawns, where drip irrigation is not possible. Often the spray heads are calibrated so that they can spray adjacent flower beds in addition to the lawn. Although they can be cheaper to install, because one head will cover a large area, they are not the most efficient means to water your flower beds. The inefficiency is due to water loss from evaporation and the inability to target specific plants.
A professional drip irrigation system that is installed correctly will give each plant the correct amount of water where it needs it most, at the roots
. This type of system will water your plants at the base which will reduce evaporation and water usage substantially. An added benefit of using drip irrigation is that your plants will be less susceptible to powdery mildew and other diseases that thrive on wet leaves. If the leaves of your perennials like Delphinium, Phlox, and Monarda or annuals like Zinnias, Snapdragons, and Verbena always seem to be covered with powdery mildew, you might want to consider switching to a drip irrigation system.
Water Your Property In The Early Morning
Rainwater collection tank. (mygreenfreak.com)
The next tip for water conservation is to set your irrigation system to water in the early morning. If you are watering your property in the heat of mid-day you are losing a lot of water and your plants might not be getting watered enough. If you are watering in the evening and your plants do not get a chance to dry off before night fall, they are more susceptible to attack from disease. We recommend that all of our clients set their irrigation to come on in the early morning hours. Watering in the morning will minimize evaporation and give your plants the water they need to make it through those hot summer days.
Use A Weather Sensor With Your Irrigation
Installing a weather sensor is another great way to reduce water waste. Sensors help controllers shut off based on actual outside conditions such as rain, freezing temperatures and high wind speeds. Sensors can help prevent costly and harmful over watering during unnecessary times. This relatively inexpensive addition to your irrigation system gives you the peace of mind to know that your plants are getting watered correctly.
Install A Rainwater Collection Tank
Here in the Northeast, we often get a large amount of rain in a short period of time and we go through times where it seems like it never rains. Installing a rain water collection tank is becoming a popular option to help store rain water for irrigating during dry times. These tanks can be fitted to collect the water from your gutter downspouts and can then be used with your drip irrigation system. Using a rainwater collection tank also helps eliminate roof runoff and sewer overflow.
Use Native Plants In Your Landscape
Sprinkler heads are generally used for lawns, where drip irrigation is not possible. (raintechs.com)
Native plants are best suited for our specific weather conditions and require less water than many hybrid options that are currently popular. Since they are preprogrammed to thrive in our climate, supplemental irrigation can be greatly reduced. There are many beautiful native plants and shrubs that can be used in a variety of different situations. From a formal garden to a wildflower meadow, you will be surprised at the incredible selection of native plant species. Many native plants also have the added benefit of being deer resistant.
Following any of these tips will greatly reduce the amount of water wasted in your garden. By maximizing the efficiency of your irrigation system and making some informed choices, your plants will benefit and your water usage will reduce substantially. If you want to know more about the efficiency of your irrigation system, contact your irrigation specialist. A professional irrigation specialist can work with you to get the most out of your current system, or they can help design a new system for your property.
Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem' - Common Name: Ural False Spirea - This native of the Ural mountain range unfurls the most incredible pinkish-red foliage in spring and continues to delight with showy white plumes of flowers in summer. By fall, the compound leaves turn a coppery bronze color, making this an attractive hedge or accent plant. 'Sem' is a compact variety that only reaches 48 inches in height and it is better behaved than other Sobaria. Best of all, it is extremely easy to grow. Grow in part to full sun and enjoy it from spring to fall. Zones: 3-7