The weather blocking patterns created by climate change have caused increasing challenges for home gardeners. They have to deal with drought for extended periods even if they don’t live in a traditionally dry climate, and then flooding next. Moreover, the pest pressure alone can be frustrating in these situations. But you can do quite a few things to save water when taking care of your home garden, even when the weather is extreme. Here are some tips on how to save water on your home garden, year round and in all climates.
Drip tape watering hose
First up is the best way to save water on your home garden: drip tape. Drip tape is a black hose you attach to your garden water source and then poke holes where your plants are. Drip tape saves up to 80% of water from evaporation and can greatly reduce the watering needs of your garden because water only goes where it’s needed.
Water at the right time of day
If you live in a hot climate, you probably know that watering your garden in the morning will just make it evaporate in the hot sun. Try watering your garden just before sunrise, or after the heat of the day has passed. You don’t want to water at night or you will get mold on your plants, but any time away from noon sun should help you save water on irrigating your garden.
Put your sprinklers on a timer
Don’t have time to stand around watering or remembering when to go outside for optimal water conservation? You can buy timers that go on a standard sprinkler or split your garden into zones. This is a fantastic option for saving water if you grow plants that have different watering needs. Instead of wasting water soaking the whole garden, you can set your timer to water the thirsty plants longer, without wasting water or drowning the plants that don’t need that much.
Plant drought-resistant plants
You can also save water by planting vegetables, flowers and trees that are native to your area and won’t need a lot of extra water or attention. We like to grow zucchini even though no one really wants to eat it just because it’s so resilient in our Midwest climate regardless of the weather. In fact it’s one of the only plants growing normally during this bizarre growing season that started with late frost, then drought and heat, then wildfire smoke haze followed by soaking storms.
If you live in a northern climate, try growing plants that are cold resistant and like the amount of rain you get in the spring so you can save water by only watering in the peak of summer. You could also grow in a tunnel or greenhouse to preserve water, as plants in covered spaces don’t lose as much water to evaporation and have more controlled temperature. Just be sure to get a greenhouse or tunnel that allows you to control ventilation so you don’t cook your greens on a hot day. The best tunnels are low and removeable for flexibility with this. The best greenhouses have fans or ventilated windows so you can adjust temperature and moisture as the weather shifts.
Rock gardening to preserve water
Live in a hot or dry climate? Put down rocks around your plants that are thirsty in a row or a low wall to preserve water and nutrients in the soil from blowing away. Or use mulch around plants and use landscape fabric where appropriate to help hold moisture in the soil. Biointensive farming might also help you retain more moisture in a climate that’s heating up. In places like New Jersey, the climate is moving to subtropical, meaning you can plant later in the season, but you need to think about watering needs changing.
Subterranean gardening (no, really)
Here me out. There is an older gentleman currently growing oranges and other tropical fruits like figs in an underground tunnel off the back of his house in North Dakota. If your climate just isn’t cooperating, you could look into berming a garden or greenhouse into the ground to make ventilation and watering more even year round.
This is also an option for those of us in cold winter climates, and is a way to turn a desert climate into a tropical growing zone if you have the water to keep up. Water for these gardens could come from hoses or rainwater basins, and you can ventilate them on top like a greenhouse. Or dig drain tile into the ground below the frost line with blower fans that keep your greenhouse always the temperature of the soil beneath whatever is frozen. This is more labor intensive and more of an investment (also limited space), but it’s a great option for people who are determined to garden no matter what happens to the climate.
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