It’s gardening season in Missouri, but, with drought still gripping parts of the country, water usage is a growing concern. Even if conditions aren’t dry at the moment, it’s a good idea to think about how you use this precious natural resource — and how you can use it more wisely.
Here are five great tips to help be more mindful of your water usage:
- Think about where to plant. Your space has a big impact on the amount of water you need to use. The same backyard can have areas that get different amounts of sun, shade and rain, for example. A flat spot will hold moisture better than one that is sloped. And, don’t forget to check the soil — clay soils will retain water much longer than sandy soils.
- Choose the right plants. Different plants and vegetables thrive in different conditions. Pick plants that will work well in your climate, and group plants with similar watering needs in the same area.
- Increase moisture retention with mulch. Mulch does more than insulate the soil and reduce evaporation. It is also effective at reducing weeds, which can suck up water meant for your plants. And, mulch doesn’t have to be bark or manure; it can be a plastic sheet. Add a soaker hose or drip system underneath for the best results.
- Know how much water your garden is getting. Install a rain gauge (or even an empty can) so you always know how much water your garden has received — either naturally or from sprinklers. The average garden needs about an inch of water a week. If you can feel moisture just under the surface of the soil, you probably don’t need to water. Remember, sprinklers don’t always provide even coverage, so monitor where the water goes, not just how long you’ve had them on.
- Install the right irrigation. One of the best ways to get water to your garden is through a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system. Both are (usually) inexpensive and easy to install. They are beneficial because they don’t simply spray water. They instead provide it in measured doses right at the root zone.
With a little bit of planning (and some dirt on your hands), you truly can have a water-friendly garden. Enjoy the season and share pictures of your garden on our Facebook page!