by Bethany Hayes
Do you feel like you’re spending a fortune to water your garden? You need some water-saving tips to help reduce your water usage while still keeping your plants well-watered.
Water costs an arm and a leg in many areas, so conserving as much as possible is wise for your budget and the environment. Water might be a renewable resource, but in some areas, it’s a valuable commodity. Being water conscious is a wise choice for all gardeners.
We live in an area with high water bills; a single-family pays no less than $80 for water in our area. With a large family, our water bills easily hit $200, so I have to know all of the best water-saving tips to use in my garden.
1. Water Your Garden in the Morning and Containers in the Afternoon
Timing your watering is one of the best ways to encourage optimal growth while reducing the water you use. When you water your plants has a severe effect on plants.
Gardening experts suggest that containers need to be watered in the afternoon. Many potting soil mixes contain pine bark with low moisture retention properties, so the plants dry out faster. Aim to water your potted plants afternoon and during the afternoon rather than early morning.
The best time to water the rest of your garden is in the early morning before the temperatures start to rise. The winds tend to be lower in the morning, and this dramatically decreases evaporation. Watering in the morning gives your plants a water supply to help them face the heat of the day.
2. Collect Rainwater
In some areas, collecting rainwater is discouraged because of frequent drought-like conditions, but in most regions, collecting rainwater in barrels is a great water-saving tip to use for your garden.
Rainwater is free of chemicals often found in city water or groundwater, and did I mention rainwater is FREE? Setting up a rain barrel system can be as easy or complex as you want to make it. You can attach a hose and spigot to the barrels or dip a watering can into it. Some have one rain barrel, and others have four or five!
3. Install a Drip Irrigation System
Using a drip irrigation system is an efficient way to water your plants without wasting water. These systems put the water at the base of the plants, targeting the roots.
Watering the base of plants is recommended rather than overhead watering. Overhead watering leads to less water reaching the roots and encourages the development of plant diseases from soil-borne diseases.
4. Use an Automatic Rain-Shutoff Device
This little device is so cool! It attaches to your irrigation system controller, and it tells the system to shut off when a specific amount of rainfalls. Using a rain-shut-off device protects your garden and lawn from receiving too much water. It’s easy to forget that you have to calculate rain into your gardening schedule.
Depending on the brand, an automatic rain-shutoff device costs around $200 to install. That might sound like a lot, but if you have a large garden that you have to water regularly, it’ll save you that amount in no time.
5. Use Water-Efficient Emitters
Another handy piece of technology that is an excellent water-saving tip is to look into water-efficient emitters. If your sprinkler or drip irrigation system is more than a few years old, an irrigation expert can come to your home and suggest efficient options.
You might be hesitant to pay someone to help – you’re trying to save money here! Remember that watering a garden usually increases your bill for three-fourths of the year, and if you always garden, the extra cost will outweigh the cost to have an expert help you.
6. Use a Moisture Meter
If money is tight and buying an automatic shut-off device is too expensive, a moisture meter is a cheap tool that is helpful! It lets you know if the soil is too dry and you need to water, or if the ground is just right, or if it’s too wet, so you should avoid overwatering.
Overwatering is a chronic problem in gardens, so you want to decrease this practice as much as possible. Most soil meters cost less than $15, so finding one to work in your budget is possible.
Many soil meters also let you know if the plants receive enough
7. Make Sure Your Hose Isn’t Leaking
You might have a leak and not even realize it. Leaks cost homeowners thousands of dollars each year on their water bill. Outdoor leaks are more common because chances are you won’t notice.
This is another task that an expert offers, but you can do this independently. Here’s an easy set of instructions on how to check for water leaks.
8. Always Mulch Your Garden
One of my favorite water-saving tips is to cover the exposed soil with a thick layer of organic mulch. It offers several benefits that gardeners should never pass up.
A few reasons that you should always apply mulch to your garden include:
- Keeps the root zone cool
- Retains moisture in the soil so that you don’t have to water as often
- Warms the soil in the spring during early planting
- Suppresses weeds by limiting access to sunlight
- Reduces soil erosion
These benefits help a garden, but the one you should note is that mulch retains moisture in the soil. Organic mulches, like shredded leaves and grass clippings, break down over time and release nutrients into your soil.
9. Add More Organic Matter to Your Soil
Building up humus, or organic matter, in your soil is an easy way to reduce how often you need to water. Organic matter absorbs its weight in water many times, and since water is essential for plant growth, this is a vital piece of the puzzle.
Adding compost to clay soil helps the soil let go of the water easier and also allows it to accept water more. Adding compost to sandy soil helps it hold water for longer, so you don’t have to water as often.
The easiest way to increase humus in your soil is to add compost that breaks down. It has dozens of nutrients while acting as a soil amendment and building soil health. It also has a buffer effect against drought and plant stress.
10. Don’t Overwater
Overwatering is one of the biggest culprits for water wastage than anything else. More water isn’t necessarily better for your plants than less water.
Few plants need to be watered daily; if the soil is still moist two inches below the surface, chances are you don’t need to water. Gardeners get into the habit of watering daily, but chronic overwatering leads to unhealthy plants. Too much water causes root problems and nutrient absorption issues.
Learn how much water each of your plants needs and create a watering schedule based on their needs.