Many of us are realizing that our natural resources are not limitless and that conservation and recycling are necessary actions to preserve these resources for future generations. Water is potentially the most important of all of these resources as we literally can’t live without it. Virtually every corner of our nation can be subject to drought conditions at one time or another and with these conditions often come restrictions on the use of water for things such as gardens. No gardener I know likes to lose their plantings as a result of a lack of water and this makes focusing on using water resources more efficiently as well as decreasing the amounts of water needed to maintain our landscaping something every gardener should consider.
The good news is that there are actions you can take to help minimize the impact of drought conditions on your garden. The first and perhaps most important action you can take are to choose your plants wisely. Many plants such as trees, shrubs, flowers and ornamental grasses, once established, can be tolerant of a variety of tough conditions including drought. One of the benefits of completing a profile with Blooming Secrets is we ask you about your interest in topics such as gardening in dry conditions and we can help recommend plants to you that can tolerate these situations.
Along with choosing appropriate plants there are other ways you can help your plants survive dry spells. Mulching is a very low cost and highly effective way to help retain moisture in the soil. The best time to mulch your garden with drought conditions in mind is in spring after temperatures have warmed the soil. In warmer USDA zones such as 8 through 10 this could be mid to late April but for the rest of the country it may need to wait until mid to late May. A good time to lay the mulch is after a soaking rain as you can then put the mulch down while the soil is moist and in doing so help retain that moisture in the soil.
Another way to help your garden survive drought conditions is to more efficiently and effectively manage the water you do have. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems water the plants right at the soil level which helps minimize evaporation and this allows for deeper and less frequent watering requirements. Installing a rain barrel(s) is a great way to store what Mother Nature provides for future use when water becomes scarcer. Another recent method of using water more efficiently is to harness the power of “gray water”. This technique involves recycling water that is used in everyday activities such as the water you cook your pasta in or if you use a dehumidifier in your basement taking that water and using it to water your plants. My father practices this technique and doesn’t even realize it. He uses a watering can to catch the dripping water from his air conditioning system and when the can is full he uses it to water his garden. It may not seem like much but in drought conditions every little bit helps.
I am sure that many of you may have your own great ideas and please share them with us by going to our Facebook page. Remember, as the Greek Philosopher Plato said “necessity is the mother of invention”.