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Water Wise Gardening

Water preservation is critical whether we are amidst a dry spell or not, since water is a constrained asset. Over portion of the water we utilize goes into our scenes, so it bodes well to search for approaches to spare water as we garden. Xeriscaping, or water astute planting, is a progression of systems that spare water, as well as time. Here are the fundamentals.

Arrange, arrange, arrange. Each great garden starts with a decent plan. In this way, as you consider see, presentation, capacity and the various components of configuration, think water, as well. To spare water, gather plants with comparable water needs. Put plants with the most noteworthy water needs nearest to your water sources. Wrestling hoses or unlimited containers out to far-flung parched plants is my slightest most loved garden task.

Limit the size of your lawn. How much lawn do you really need? Lawns require more time, effort and water than most other parts of your landscape. So, reduce the size of your lawn. Instead, plant drought resistant ground covers, native plants or low maintenance trees and shrubs.

Use appropriate plants. Look for plants with low water needs, often marked as “drought resistant” on plant tags or catalog descriptions. Also, consider native plants. They are generally well adapted, have lower water demands and fewer pest problems. For a list of drought resistant plants, visit the Maryland Cooperative Extension office on Montevue Avenue in Frederick and ask for the free flyer, “Xeriscaping and Conserving Water in the Landscape.”

How you plant is nearly as important as what you plant. Plant trees and shrubs in mass plantings. Prepared beds allow for greater root spread and water take-up, plus grouped plantings look better. Also, plant in spring or fall when it takes less water to get plants established. And remember to make catch basins around newly planted trees and shrubs to catch water.

Improve the soil. Add plenty of organic matter to help hold moisture in flower beds and areas where you plan to plant trees and shrubs. Soil amendments such as peat moss and compost can improve root development, water penetration and retention. A good rule of thumb is 4 to 6 inches of organic matter in new beds. Add organic matter to your gardens every year to keep the soil and plants healthy.

Use mulches. Mulches minimize evaporation, reduce weeds, slow erosion and prevent soil temperature fluctuations. To help you choice the right mulch and apply it properly, pick up a free flyer on mulching at the Extension office.

Water efficiently. Water only when necessary, based on the condition of the plants rather than a fixed schedule. Don’t panic over a little droopiness. Remember, most plants wilt in hot sun, then recover.

Timing is everything. Water in the early morning since you lose nearly half of the water to evaporation in the heat of day. And when you do water, water deeply. Watering only when needed and thoroughly produces deep-rooted plants that are more water efficient and drought enduring.

Take advantages of new and old technologies. Try soaker hoses or drip irrigation to water deeply and encourage deep root growth. And hook up a rain barrel or two to your downspouts to capture free water. A mere 1/8 inch of rain on an average roof will fill a 60 gallon rain barrel. My rain barrel and I bonded during last year’s drought. I wouldn’t be without one now.

Practice appropriate maintenance. Keep your irrigation systems running properly. A leaky hose can waste gallons upon gallons of water. Practice proper pruning, weeding and fertilization to keep plants healthy and not overly thirsty. Mow the lawn high to reduce weeds and evaporation. And control weeds to reduce competition for water.