When considering which plants to use in your garden or landscaping, it important to consider water consumption, especially when you live in Southern California. Here are a few simple suggestions on how to conserve water in your garden or landscaping.
- Use Plant Specific Drip Irrigation– This technique is different than standard drip irrigation. Standard drip irrigation emits that same volume of water to all your plants. While plant-specific irrigation emits a specific volume of water based on the plant’s specific needs. For example, fruit trees such as an orange tree will need 8 gallons per hour, while a palm tree will need only two gallons per hour of water.
- Let Your Plants Soak– As counterintuitive as it sounds, it is important to let your plants have a long deep watering session with long dry out periods in between, compared to watering your plants for multiple short periods. A common mistake when installing drip irrigation is watering the plants for more frequent, lower volume periods. For example, watering your plants for 20 minutes a day will not allow the area to soak, and the water will not reach all the way down to the plant’s roots. However, if you were to water your plants for a solid hour, the water would reach all the way down to the roots, and you would only have to water your plants once per week.
- Proper Mulch Saves Water– Having a layer of mulch on the surface of your plant bed will help retain the moisture in the soil, therefore allowing you to water your plants less frequently. In most cases, we recommend using a mulch of various sizes from particulate matter to large pieces all mixed together. This will minimize air flow from the surface of the soil, therefore minimizing the evaporation of water. We also recommend installing the mulch with a depth of a minimum of three inches, preferably 5-6 inches of mulch for best results.
- Timing Watering to Decrease Evaporation– Time your watering to be either during dawn, dusk, or night time. This will minimize the amount of heat and evaporation on the ground which will allow the water more time to absorb into the ground, therefore reaching the plant’s roots.
- Consider the Types of Plants you are Installing– There are certain types of plants that require a lot of water. For example, fruit-bearing trees or plants require a large amount of water to produce quality fruit. Where certain grasses, shrubs, and succulents don’t require much water at all once they have been established. If your heart is set on high water consumption plants such as fruit trees, it is important to discuss this with your landscape designer. That way you can strategically place these trees/plants around the yard in order to best utilize the water run-off. The typography of the ground plays a huge role in the water usage. For example, a slope is going to utilize a much larger amount of water than a flat or low-lying area.
- Keep your Plants Healthy with Fertilizer– Fertilizer is much more important in water conservation than many people think. By fertilizing your plants regularly, you help your plants build a strong healthy root system that will maximize their water absorption for when water is available to them. Fertilizer also increases the amount of leaf structure which then creates more shade. More shade on the root structure decreases the water evaporation and allows for lower levels of watering. A convenient way to fertilize your plants is to install fertilizer injectors into your drip system. A typical injector will last about three months and add fertilizer to the water during each watering session.
If you are looking to decrease your water consumption in your garden or landscaping and need some advice, Dennis Carson can guide you. Gardening is a personal hobby of his and he looks at landscape design like a residential version of farming. He can apply his knowledge and efficiency tactics to your yard to help save you money on water consumption while creating a beautiful landscape around your property.