Make your garden water efficient
We’ve just sweltered through another heat wave in the southern states. Temperatures soared well above average maximums and it was unusually humid. In Victoria we experienced our hottest night of the summer.
While you’re seeking refuge under the air conditioner or under the water at the local pool, beach or river spare a thought for your garden.
“During summer it’s not just about keeping water up to your garden,” says Craig Turner, Landscape Designer and Co-Director of The Garden Planners.
“You need to make sure you’re getting the most out of the water you use. Thankfully, there are some really smart, simple techniques and great products around that really help.”
Here are some tips to make your garden more water efficient
You want every drop of water you apply to your garden to go right to the roots of your plants.
Long soakings several times a week will deliver better results than a little surface watering every day. If you don’t have a watering system drag a sprinkler around in the cool of the morning or evening to ensure everything gets a good soak.
Don’t forget those pots either. Submerging them in a bucket of water until the air bubbles are gone is a good trick.
Mulch, mulch, mulch
Ensuring your garden is well mulched helps conserve water, stops the top of the soil drying out, keeps it moist and can reduce watering by up to 60 per cent.
Mulching also helps prevent weeds, which compete for water – no sense watering the garden only to grow a great crop of weeds!
“Mulch is either organic, like bark, straw and cane, or inorganic like stone and gravel. It doesn’t really matter what type you use as long as the roots are covered.”
We recommend spreading at least 75mm to 100mm of good quality mulch and keeping it topped up during the warmer weather. Spread your mulch when the soil is nice and moist and incorporate some edging to stop it from spreading. See our recent post on garden edging for the best options.
Trap extra water with water storing granules
Water storing granules applied below your mulch or mixed through the potting mix in your pots will help trap and store the water for your plants to access on warmer days.
These granules, which look a bit like sugar crystals when dry, swell like super absorbent sponges when they come in contact with water, storing several hundred times their own weight. They often also contain soluble compounds such as fertiliser. Good quality granules will rehydrate themselves and last three to five years.
Get more water in with liquid wetting products
These products increase the wettability (the ability to take up water effectively) of hard to wet soils, allowing deeper penetration of water into the root zone, and remain active for many months. They make watering, rainfall and liquid feeding more effective…. saving water, time and money. Winner!
We love Seasol Super Soil Wetter and Conditioner; a long-lasting, aquatic safe wetting agent boosted with Seasol seaweed concentrate and humic soil conditioners.
The soil conditioner promotes the development of good soil structure and increases water-holding capacity. It stimulates the growth of beneficial soil microbes, which enhance the fertility and disease resistance of the soil, helps to oxygenate the soil and improve retention and plant uptake of essential nutrients.
Make your mowing matter
Want some great news? In hot weather it’s better if you slow down on the mowing and let your lawn grow a bit longer.
That’s right, less mowing will make for a healthier lawn. Allowing the lawn leaf and thatch layer to grow a little protects the soil and helps hold in the moisture. It’s also likely to need less water. So park your mower in the shed next Saturday and tackle another job, or better still, put your feet up and relax.
Implement some or all of these suggestions at your place and you’ll help your garden not only survive but thrive this summer.