Ways to Save Water in the Garden
Nigel Berman (The Freeman) - April 7, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — It’s important to save water in the garden – for two reasons. First, to save money on water bills. Second, because up to 70 percent of the water supply is used in gardens. This can deplete water resource, cause environmental damage, and increase water prices.

Here are six ways to minimize the use of water in the garden:

1. Look after your soil. Adding organic matter to the soil improves its structure, which helps it to retain moisture. Mulching flowerbeds, and around the base of shrubs and trees in summer prevents moisture from evaporating during dry spells. Mulching the surface of hanging baskets traps moisture. Add water-retentive granules or gel to compost, or use compost with them already mixed in, to use in hanging baskets and containers.

2. Water at the right time. Many people over-water their gardens. This is not only wasteful, it means they’re doing more work than they need to. To check if you need to water or not, look at the soil about a spade-deep down. If it’s damp, it’s fine; if it’s dry, it’s time to water. If you have clay soil, it might feel damp whether it’s irrigated or not and sandy soil can feel dry, even if it has water in it. If this is the case, watch your plants and when they start to show signs of water stress – when leaves change position or get darker – note how the soil looks and feels. This way you can get more of an idea of what your soil is like when it has too little water.

Watering the garden before a drought sets in keeps the soil’s moisture levels up and helps prevent a water deficit. You should also water plants in the evening when it’s cooler, to reduce evaporation.

3. Use the right amount of water. This depends on the soil type. Light sandy soils need watering more often than heavy soils. Clay-based soils can be watered less frequently, but need more water. The rule of thumb is that for plants to keep growing, up to 24 liters per square meter (5.2 gallons per 10 square feet) every seven to 10 days is sufficient. That’s about two and a half 10 liter watering cans worth per square meter. 

4. Grow plants that need less water. Some plants need less water than others to grow; lavender, palms, mimosa and verbena, to name a few.

5. Use the best watering techniques for your plants.

• Sprinklers: best used to water the lawn and soak unplanted areas, sprinklers have great coverage but you can’t target specific sections of your garden with them.

• Hoses and watering cans: labor intensive but precise, use these to water around plant bases beneath the leaves, and leave the surrounding soil dry. This limits weed growth and means all the water goes where it is needed. 

• Seep hoses: these allow water to seep out of holes in the hose. They can be buried under soil or mulch, which avoids evaporation. They allow you to water established plants in rows, but are best used on heavy soil as water spreads further sideways, covering more than it would on lighter soils.

• Automated irrigation systems: these allow water to drip or trickle into growing areas whenever you program them to do so. They save time and effort, but they are the most expensive option. Make sure you take hot and dry weather into account when you program your system.

6. Collect rainwater and reuse old water. Even if you live in a dry part of the country, you could collect 24,000 liters (5,280 gallons or 150 water butts) of rainwater from your roof each year. Obviously, not many people can store that much water, but if every household in the country collected even just one water butt’s worth of water a year (160 liters), that’s four billion liters of free water that could be used on our gardens.

• It’s simple to collect rainwater: just divert the water from your drainpipe into a water butt or a wheelie bin.

• Reusing grey water (water from baths, showers, washing machines and washing up) is a good way to use water a second time. You can buy grey water diverters that reroute the water from your bath to an irrigation system or a water butt.

• Household soaps and detergents are harmless to plants, but don’t use water containing bleach, disinfectant, dishwasher salt or stronger cleaners, which can harm plants, damage soil structure and could be a health risk. (www.theguardian.com)

  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with