Water slowly, deeply, and in the cool of the morning.
Irrigation and careful hand-watering will save water. Rich, loose soil will help retain moisture. By planning ahead and following a few simple tips, you can conserve water in your garden and provide your plants with all the moisture they need. Consider the reasons to water your garden wisely: conserving water is always a good idea for the health of the environment and your local watershed but it is also healthy for the checkbook, as well. By watering with care, you save quite a bit of money on the bill. Also, by watering strategically, you can increase the health of your plants.
The easiest way to water wisely is to water when it is cool outside, in the early morning, before things heat up. If you have automatic sprinklers or drip irrigation, it may be wise to set them to go on in the morning, during the hot summer months. This decreases the amount water lost to evaporation during the heat, which can be quite considerable and wasteful. Another big tip is to water deeply and less frequently. This encourages deeper root growth for most plants, as the roots have to seek out the water that the soil holds below the surface. Deeper roots mean stronger, healthier plants that have access to more nutrients and are less likely to be damaged by storms or trampling. Watering deeply also makes plants more drought-tolerant.
Consider installing drip irrigation or a soaker hose, for more efficient watering. This is especially handy if you have a very large garden. They are efficient because they drip water right onto the soil, where roots can absorb it. Watering from above often wastes water because it lands on the plants’ leaves, where it cannot be absorbed. This also helps to prevent fungal diseases that can plague wet leaves. Drip irrigation keeps just the top of the soil cool and moist.
When watering by hand, take care to water slowly so that it all sinks in and does not run off and cause erosion. Using lower water pressure will help ensure that, as well as using a shower-spray nozzle on your hose. It takes more time, perhaps, but will be more beneficial to the health of the plants and soil.
Soil quality is also important for watering wisely. Loose, loamy soil, with lots of organic matter in it, will hold water for plants to intake, rather than sandy soil, which is too loose and will allow leaching or clay soil, which is too compact and will hold too much water. Clay soil is common in this area. Till lots of compost into dry, clay soil, in order to improve its texture and ability to hold water. Mulch is a great way to hold water and keep plants cool, reducing their need for more.
There are many small things that can be done to water the garden wisely, saving time, money and water, all the while increasing the health of the garden.