When water resources are scarce, follow these 7 water-saving measures to limit your water usage, but allow you to continue enjoying a garden.
#1 Mulch Plenty - Use 3-4" of mulch on top of the soil to retain moisture longer and reduce the soil temperature. This reduces watering needs by up to 50%.
#2 Enrich Soil with Compost – Add a 3" layer of organic matter and turn it into the existing soil to increase the soil's water-holding capacity (Rodale Institute equates 1lb compost = 40lb water retention).
Pro-Tip: Use Raised Beds – An enclosed garden bed retains water better than open gardens.
#3 Arrangement of Plants – Bury plants in an off-set pattern instead of straight rows. The off-set pattern groups plants closer, which provides cooling shade and reduces evaporation from the soil.
#4 Water in the Morning – Water your garden in the early morning, around 6 AM, when the temperatures are cooler and there is less wind to evaporate the water.
#5 Set up a Rain Barrel – Collect water in a rain barrel to water your plants, rather than using hose water. (Be aware of your state's regulations before taking this step.)
Pro-Tip: Install Drip Irrigation – Watering with a sprinkler is not as efficient as directly watering each plant with a drip line. Get the water near each plant's roots, rather than throwing water in the general direction of plants.
#6 Keep Weeds at Bay – Weeds compete for the water that should be going to garden plants. Be vigilant about plucking weeds regularly and also refer to step #1 Mulch Plenty, which reduces weeds.
#7 Choose Drought Resistant Plants – Select edibles, annuals, and perennials for the garden that require less water than others and thrive in hot, dry locations.
Vegetables & Herbs –
Pro-Tips: For vegetables, choose miniature versions which reduce the time until harvest, plus requires less water to develop (mini bell peppers or mini eggplants). Avoid planting beans, cabbage, turnips or radishes because they have some of the highest or most consistent water requirements of common vegetables.
Annual & Perennials –