Even though we had a smattering of late spring rainstorms, the threat of drought still looms large in California. Here we go again with water-saving tips. But seriously, we always should be following water saving guidelines, drought or no. Here are a few things you can do to keep your garden healthy and water wise.
Irrigate, don’t sprinkle: It is useless to simply wave a water wand around the garden, sprinkling plants, foliage and all. It is far better to put the water directly to the roots. This can be done by flooding a bed directly at the base of each plant, if you desire to water by hand. Otherwise, use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to soak the root zone.
Make the soil healthy: This involves adding plenty of organic matter to the soil each spring and autumn. Soil moisture is conserved, beneficial soil microbes and bacteria increase. These things help increase the water-holding capacity of garden soil. Compost, composted manures, leaf mold and worm castings all make soil healthy.
Mulch: A 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch will not only smother water greedy weeds, it will also keep things from drying out. Mulch reduces evaporation. Rice straw is great for vegetable gardens. Mini fir bark and chipper mulch work well for landscaped areas.
Timing is everything: The best time of day to water is early morning or early evening, especially during windy days. If watering late in the day, be sure not to sprinkle water on foliage. Watering by hand at the base of each plant is best.
Check irrigation tools: Repairing leaky faucets, sprinklers and hoses goes a long way in saving water. These days it is an unforgivable act to allow precious water to run down the gutters due to faulty equipment.