10 ways to help save water in your garden
Tips and tricks for water conservation in your landscape
Our cold winter is fading and spring is sprouting. For many of us, that means it’s time to start thinking about landscaping projects.
A well-designed landscape not only adds beauty to your home, it also can help reduce your water use, improve your home’s comfort and lower your energy bills all year long.
Explore xeriscape design and you’ll discover that this type of garden is environmentally friendly and attractive. Many homeowners confuse xeriscape with zero-scape, thinking that choosing a xeriscaped yard means accenting mostly hardscape with a few plants.
That’s not the case at all. Yards that embrace xeriscape ideas actually feature all manner of plants and garden styles, even cottage gardens. The term simply refers to a landscape that minimizes water use.
On average, a well-designed landscape saves enough water and energy to pay for itself in less than eight years. It’s never too late to make your landscape beautiful and efficient.
Here are 10 relatively easy tips to help conserve water in your landscape:
1. Choose well-adapted plants
Select plants appropriately. Seek out Oklahoma Proven plants for the best success in our regional climate. Visit oklahomaproven.org for plant profiles.
2. Group similar plants together
Always group together plants that have similar water needs.
3. Choose vining vegetables
Choose vining vegetable crops like cucumbers, assorted melons, and summer and winter squash. They require less water than many other vegetables, and watering is only critical during their flowering and fruiting stages. The same goes for eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.
4. Rethink your lawn
A lawn is easily No. 1 in water consumption in the average landscape. Consider limiting turf areas and replant with grasses that survive solely on rainfall and/or use turf grass, which requires minimal water. Contact the Tulsa County OSU Extension Office for proper turf selections for our area.
5. Aerate your soil
Aerating the soil improves water flow to plants’ roots and enables soil to better absorb water and nutrients. This encourages deeper roots.
6. Use drip irrigation
Drip irrigation systems deliver water directly to the root zone and nowhere else. They can be readily found both in stores and online, and are quite easy to install. Watering the root system versus the foliage has many advantages, including both efficient water usage and minimization of foliage mold and other diseases.
7. Reuse water
Collect rainwater from roofs via guttering into rain barrels or similar apparatus. Reuse any old water that is not high in sodium and salts.
8. When you water matters
Water only in the early mornings, when it is cooler and less windy and evaporation rates are low. Avoid watering in the late evening as wet leaves at nighttime invite disease.
9. Let your grass get taller
Raise your lawnmower cutting height as it gets warmer. Longer grass blades help shade each other and retain more water. Generally speaking, root depth is proportional to grass blade height. That is, the higher the blade height, the deeper the roots, which will survive drought conditions much better.
Use mulch to keep plant roots cool, minimize evaporation, prevent soil from crusting and reduce weed growth.
Thank you to Tulsa County Master Gardeners for their expertise in this subject matter. Allen Robinson has been a Master Gardener since 2010.
The annual Tulsa Master Gardeners Plant Sale continues online through April 4, with the public sale 9 a.m.-7 p.m., April 19, at the Expo Square Exchange Center, 4145 E. 21st St.
The sale offers a variety of plants for containers, flower beds and vegetable gardens.
Admission is free. Plant prices vary. Proceeds benefit Tulsa Master Gardeners’ educational and volunteer programs.