Having a garden filled with vegetables and flowers all summer long is every homesteader’s dream! When you live in an area affected by water shortages and droughts, however, it can be hard to justify freshwater overuse. Thankfully, though, with a few small changes in your habits, you can cut down the water you need dramatically and keep your plants flourishing throughout the year! Today, we continue our water conservation at home guides with some time-tested advice on watering plants without wasting too much water!
8 Watering Plants Tips to Reduce Your Water Footprint When Growing Your Garden
1. Check the weather before watering
This may seem pretty obvious, but it can be surprisingly hard to remember! Before you go out and water your garden, look up when it’s supposed to rain again. If there are showers in the forecast for later that day or even the next, consider letting nature water for you! The less water you take out of your tap, the less stress placed on the public supply.
2. Choose the time of day wisely
In addition to monitoring the next rainfall, you should also plan your watering schedule around the sun. By watering your plants in the middle of the day, you increase the likelihood that a good portion of the water will evaporate. It’s estimated that almost half of the water we apply outdoors goes to waste because of overwatering, evaporation, and wind. That is water wasted! It is best to water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening before the heat rises, and the sun comes out.
3. Select drought-resistant plants
As much as possible, it’s also a good idea to select plants that can handle a few days with less water. If you’re growing plants around your house just for looks, consider planting rosemary, holly, sunflowers, and other drought-resistant varieties. These guys will hold up during the hot summer months better than most and allow you the freedom to water a little less.
4. Mix the types of plants in each bed
The vegetables in your garden will grow better and wilt less if they have more protection from the elements. A great way to provide some natural shade for the roots and increase biodiversity is to mix plants within beds. The tighter the plants grow together, the less water that will be lost to run-off as well.
For example, vine plants like beans can be grown with corn as the corn provides a natural pole for them to climb. Squash can also easily be planted around the base of sunflowers and fill up space.
5. Consider drip-line irrigation
If you’ve got a hefty garden in your backyard, it may be wise to install a drip-line irrigation system. When we water with a hose or a sprinkler system, we end up watering a lot of dirt that doesn’t need to be. Dripline systems are tiny hoses that let out water right at the base of your plants, helping to reduce over-watering and reduce potential evaporation from the sun.
6. Use the greywater from your house – like from the shower
There are so many ways to use greywater in your house, and one of them is in your garden! When you’re waiting for your cold shower to heat up in the mornings, collect the water in a bucket. Later on, you can use that to water your plants. No extra water needed! And you don’t have to feel guilty about waiting to jump in the shower.
7. Build a rain barrel to keep water on hand!
Collecting rainwater is a great way to take advantage of nature’s gift. Rain barrels can be as simple as placing a bucket under a cutter to collect the run-off. Rain barrels can also be made of plastic tubs, water troughs, or specialized container systems.
It’s important to remember that standing water can grow bacteria and bugs pretty quickly. So in the summer, it’s a good idea to empty the container frequently to avoid having a bunch of mosquitoes hatching.
8. Eat what you grow!
We have talked before about the water footprint that goes into growing food. The problem is, if you let that food rot before you eat it, you’re wasting all the water and energy that went into it. Almost 40% of the food grown in the U.S. is thrown out before someone eats it! That ends up causing us to waste 21% of the water we use for agricultural purposes. That’s a lot of water we lose!
Do your part by eating everything you grow in your garden! If you produce too much, consider donating the extra veggies to your local food bank, putting a basket out for your neighbors, or offering them up on groups like Buy Nothing.
What Did We Learn about Watering Plants in the Garden?
Keeping a sustainable garden is possible even in the context of reducing our overall water footprint. If you paid attention to our previous guides, you already know we can all make a change, no matter how small, to significantly improve the state of our environment and enhance our health and lifestyle.
What are you growing in your garden this year? How do you plan on preparing for more droughts and dramatic weather events? Is watering plants without water waste a real possibility in your home?