Rain this summer has been very scattered and isolated and it seems to miss my location when it does rain! Watering a yard and garden with city water can be expensive, so here are some water-saving ideas.
A good way to start is by catching rain water in rain barrels. ¼” of rain can fill my rain barrels to overflowing. Rain water from my gutters fills my 55 gallon barrels very quickly even when rain is scarce. I use soaker hoses for some of my flower beds and hope to add drip irrigation at a later date as it can also shrink water bills, by delivering water just where it is needed. Organic mulch is a well known way for keeping soil moist. But what more can you do to reduce water usage in the garden and still have a healthy garden?
• Use and Reuse- Using gray water, or the water left over from everyday activities, is becoming more and more popular. Just make sure your gray water is free of softener salts-even trace amounts will effect the PH balance of the soil over time. Be creative- use a bowl to catch water when washing produce, let water from boiling vegetables cool, and then water a container. When its time to empty your dehumidifier tank don’t dump it down the drain-water pots or your garden. I use water from the kiddie pool our puppy plays in for watering containers plants, when it is time to empty the pool.
• Don’t Waste a Drop- make sure the water you are using really goes the distance-Example- when I water a hanging basket, I slide another container under it. Then if any water runs through the drain hole it will water the container below. Use a bucket to collect water from the faucet when you are running a bath or doing dishes to collect water as you wait for it to get hot.
• Redirect and Connect-Some water sources are easy to overlook because they are out of sight. If you have a sump pump try redirecting the drainage to benefit a planting area or connect the exit of the pump directly to a garden hose. Water that drips form an air conditioning unit can be channeled with plastic tubing delivering moisture to areas where it is most needed. Or I plant water loving plants where the AC water drips and never have to water there during AC use months. When it is time to drain our pond we try to direct the water to needed areas of the yard.
• If you have access to a pond or stream you may be able to use it for irrigation but check with DNR to make sure it is allowed and to see if a permit is needed. Also growing more heat tolerant plants will cut down on watering needs. Some annuals and perennials thrive in dry conditions. Some annuals are: Celosia, Floss Flower, Gazania, Lantana, and Mexican Sunflower. Some perennials are: Artemisia, Butterfly Weed, Lamb’s Ear, Sedum, and Yarrow.
Try a few of these ideas and in no time at all you’ll notice some big saving!