Water is a scarce resource and its availability has not been optimal everywhere in recent summers. Here are tips that will help you save water in your garden.
For garden owners, a hot summer means one thing above all: lots of watering! To avoid the weather eating too big a hole in your wallet, you need to think about how you can save water in the garden. Because even though most larger gardens already have a rain barrel, in many places flowers, shrubs, trees and hedges are still watered with tap water. This can quickly become expensive. With a little information and the right technology, water consumption can be significantly reduced.
How to save water in the garden?
Using rainwater to save water
Collecting rainwater has long been a tradition in gardens: with its low pH value, rainwater is better for rhododendrons and bog plants than the often chalky tap water anyway. For small gardens, a rain barrel is worthwhile; for larger gardens, cisterns with a capacity of several thousand liters are a sensible investment. Complete solutions with a service water circuit at the house are also possible.
Hoeing saves watering in the garden
Till your vegetable beds regularly with a hoe and cultivator. This keeps weed growth in check and the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly. The tools destroy the fine water channels (capillaries) in the top layer of soil, reducing evaporation. A good time for tillage is after prolonged rainfall, when the soil has absorbed a particularly large amount of water and the surface is silty.
Improve water retention of the soil
A lot of water is lost when rain or poured water is not held in the soil and simply drains underground to unreachable depths. Permeable soils with many coarse pores do not hold water well, this is true of soils with high sand content. Clay and loam soils have a high percentage of swellable clay minerals that can absorb and retain water. So adding clay can improve water-holding capacity. Even more effective in water storage, however, is humus, which absorbs a great amount of water. Increasing the humus content of the soil is also easier than spreading large amounts of clay in the field. With proper humus management, you can accumulate humus in the soil. This way, more rainwater is stored in the soil, you need to water less often, and water loss is lower. A particularly good idea here is to mulch all unplanted areas with bark mulch or similar material. This “area composting” leads to humus build-up and shades the soil so that less water evaporates.
Watering plants in the root zone
Don’t use a thin spray to water beds; water plants directly at the roots if possible. Do not overwater the entire plant, as the water will evaporate on the leaves and can cause burns or fungal infections. Watering less frequently but vigorously will last longer than watering frequently and little. A good idea is to place small pots in the soil, about 2 to 3 cm (1 in), next to the plant, and put the water in those. So the water will not be evaporate.
Use lawn sprinklers at the right time or not at all
Watering your yard at the right time can actually save water: Research has shown that when lawns are watered at midday, up to 90 percent of the water evaporates unused. The morning and evening hours are better. That’s when evaporation is lowest and the water gets to where it’s really needed: the roots of the plants. If you don´t have problems with a yellowish lawn, not watering is the best. With the next rain, the green will all come back.
Do not cut the lawn too short
A green lawn needs a lot of water, especially if it is cut ultrashort. Therefore, set the cutting height of the lawn mower higher in the hot summer months, then you will need to water less often.
Save water by mulching in the garden
Many modern lawn mowers can mulch in addition to mowing and catching. This leaves the lawn clippings chopped into small pieces on the surface, thus reducing evaporation. A layer of bark mulch also keeps moisture in the soil in perennial beds or under trees and shrubs. Special mulch films also help save water in the kitchen garden. The cover ensures a constant climate under the film, which benefits the plants and significantly reduces evaporation.
Choose suitable plants
Place especially thirsty plants such as hydrangeas and rhododendrons only in semi-shady places. In dry, sunny locations, they would only wither. In very hot locations in full sun, you should only place very hardy steppe or rock garden plants that can get by with little water. Deep-rooted plants such as cherry laurel, yew, roses or lupines will supply themselves with water from the lower layers of soil during drought. Especially when selecting trees and shrubs, it is therefore worthwhile to consult a tree nursery in your region before planning the planting.
Expanded clay stores water
Fill balcony boxes with a layer of expanded clay before putting in the balcony plants. The clay stores water for a long time and can also release moisture back to the plants during dry periods. In this way, you not only save water, but also bring your plants well over hot days.
Choosing the right flower pots
Unglazed pots made of terracotta look very attractive on patios and balconies, but the clay surface also causes a lot of moisture to evaporate. While the cooling effect is good for the plants, it is a burden on the water bill. Therefore, if you want to save water, place tub plants that need water in glazed ceramic pots instead. As a general rule, make sure you choose pots and tubs large enough for balconies and terraces so that the soil does not dry out immediately on warm days.