Water Smart: Keep your garden healthy without wasting precious drops in the heat
Water use in the Portland metro area often doubles or triples in the summer due to outdoor use. How much is wasted by evaporation, runoff, over-spraying and over-watering? Until 50 percent used on lawns, according to the Regional Consortium of Water Suppliers.
No one wants to waste water or create runoff that affects rivers and streams.
Water conservation seems more urgent than ever, as Oregon came out of an unusually dry spring to enter summer, with more than 90% of the state considered to be in “severe drought,” according to the US. Drought Monitor.
There is easy ways to reduce water consumption the Goldilocks way – neither too much nor too often – while keeping your landscape healthy and beautiful.
Whether you water with a garden hose or a sophisticated irrigation system, adjust the amount of watering according to the soil moisture lost when the local weather conditions change from a rainstorm to a heat wave or strong, dry winds.
Does this sound complicated to you? It’s not.
Sign up to receive a free and personalized weekly watering number from the regional water supplier consortium at regionalh2o.org. An SMS or an email will tell you the amount of water to give to your plants.
Shrubs and perennials will need about half the water of a lawn, and vegetables will need about 75% of the weekly watering.
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The Regional Consortium of Water Suppliers, Oregon State University Extension Service horticulturalists and other experts offer these tips for watering efficiently:
- Inspect your entire irrigation system for leaks, broken lines, or blockages in the lines. A dripping faucet or a small hole in a hose can waste hundreds of gallons of water every month.
- Know the needs of your plants. Young plants have shallow roots and need more water than established plants with deep roots.
- Be aware of the amount of sun and heat the plants receive each day and watch out for the plants thermal stress.
- Water abundantly, but infrequently, perhaps twice a week. Water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. when temperatures are cooler, the air is calmer and evaporation is minimal.
- Monitor your garden to determine the need for watering often and solve problems quickly with the least toxic methods. Healthy plants need less water.
- Apply only as much water the soil can absorb. If there is runoff or puddles forming, check to see if several shorter sessions allow water to seep in. Clay soil retains much more water than sandy soil.
- Check that you have watered deeply enough by pushing in a screwdriver or trowel in the ground. If it goes in easily, there is good humidity.
- Keep a well-weeded garden; weeds compete with desired plants for water and nutrients.
- A well amended soil retains water better. Water enters and drains in sandy soil about twice as fast as it does in clay soil; it takes longer to water to a specified depth in clay soil. Loamy soil is made up of both clay and sandy soil, so water drainage is in between. For more information read Improve garden soil with organic matter.
- Mulch around the base of the plants will help keep the soil cool in hot weather and reduce evaporation, leaving more water in the soil for plant use. Mulch also helps with weeds and erosion control. Inorganic mulches like gravel or small rocks are sensitive to fire, unlike bark or wood chips.
It’s best if you have plants in the garden that are drought tolerant and don’t require any applied irrigation. These include native plants and those that thrive in other semi-Mediterranean regions with a dry summer period.
Many drought tolerant plants are also fire resistant.
Amy Jo Detweiler, a horticulturalist at the Oregon State University Extension Service, suggests that before starting or changing your garden, watch for sun and shade exposure throughout the day, check soil drainage in various parts of the yard and determine if it is soggy or particularly dry. areas. In wet areas, plan a possible rain garden or an organic ditch.
More information is available in the OSU Extension Service publication, “Cultivate yours», A practical guide to gardening for novice gardeners.
Other OSU Extension publications to help with low water gardening include Conserve water in the garden and infographic Keys to water-efficient landscapes, It pays to water wisely and Landscaping maintenance to save water.
Hand watering allows you to target the soil under the plant and give it water between scheduled times. Add one Hose nozzle which allows you to control the water flow.
Soak an area around a root ball and under the tree drip line.
Spray the plants after watering in the morning to moisten the leaf surface.
Collect the water from the bath or sink while waiting for it to become hot for use in the garden.
Choose a sprinkler or irrigation system that sends large drops of water close to the ground rather than spraying a fine mist that will be lost through evaporation.
If you use oscillating sprinklers, raise them above the tallest plants so that the water currents are not blocked and their patterns overlap. Runoff indicates that you need to water at a slower rate.
Space spray heads to maximize coverage and adjust them as plants grow.
Drip irrigation uses much less water than aerial sprayers and the ground tube feeds water directly to the base of the plants at a rate the soil can absorb.
The soil wetting pattern with drip irrigation is different for sandy and clay soils. In sandy soil, water enters directly, wetting a narrow vertical strip of soil. In clay soils, the water spreads more horizontally. So, drippers can be placed further for clay soils than for sandy soils.
For more information based on drip irrigation research, see Drip irrigation: an introduction.
Soil moisture sensors prevent the start of irrigation systems when the soil is sufficiently moist.
Rain sensors Automatically turn off a sprinkler or irrigation system when rainfall reaches a preset amount, typically 1/4 inch.
Manual bib timers shut off sprinklers after a set time.
– Compiled by Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072
firstname.lastname@example.org | @janeteastman