33 Ways to Save Water in Your Home Garden

CONSIDER DESIGN
1. Grow only what you need.
2. Locate garden away from prevailing winds. Use fences or tall plants as windbreaks.
3. Group crops with similar water, soil, and sun needs into “hydrazones.”
4. Group crops with similar root depth: deep-rooted crops such as asparagus and artichoke (roots 4’+);
medium-rooted crops such as summer squash and cucumber (roots 3’+); and shallow-rooted crops
such as spinach, kale, and lettuce.
5. Layout in blocks, not rows, to shade roots and reduce evaporation.
6. Plan a spring garden with edibles that use residual water in the soil: Asparagus, Broccoli, Peas, etc.
7. Plan to use edibles that mature quickly—50-60 days: Emerite Runner Beans, Chard, Lemon
Cucumber, Early Girl, Stupice and Sungold tomatoes, etc.
8. Grow high producers: Chard, Salad Greens, Curled Kale, Strawberries, Zephyr Summer Squash, etc.
9. Choose drought-tolerant vegetables, fruit, and herbs: Sorrel, Blackberries, Rosemary, etc.
10. Incorporate drought-tolerant native edibles: Blue Elderberry, Golden Current, etc.
11. Choose dwarf and mini cultivars that use less water: Lemons, Apples, Fig, etc.
12. Use advanced tactics: swales and berms for passive water collection, rainwater harvest, gray water, and hydroponics.

CONSIDER PLANT CARE
13. Care for your most valuable plantings first: usually mature fruit trees, shrubs, and or perennials.
14. Water when needed. Check the soil moisture with a finger or moisture meter. Irrigate when dry 2-4” deep.
15. Fertilize less.
16. Control weeds, as they compete with edibles for water.
17. Thin plants on time. Thin seedlings when they are 1-2” tall. Trim unwanted seedlings at soil level. Thin
fruit trees when the fruit is young.
18. Harvest crops on time. Take crops at peak of growth and flavor.
19. Know the signs of water and heat stress: wilting foliage, curled or yellow leaves, and sunburned edges.
20. Water according to need: seeds, young and shallow-rooted plants need frequent, shallow water;
flowering and fruiting plants need less frequent, but deeper water.

CONSIDER THE SOIL
21. Know the soil in your garden, its texture, and water holding capacity.
22. Before planting, double dig the garden to loosen the soil.
23. Incorporate aged compost to increase the water-holding capacity of the soil.
24. Mulch on top of the soil to reduce watering needs up to 50%. Mulching reduces evaporation, moderates
soil temperature, insulates roots, suppresses weeds, reduces soil compaction and prevents erosion.

CONSIDER IRRIGATION
25. Repair leaks and check regularly for new leaks.
26. Irrigate in the morning when temps are cool but rising.
27. Water deeply and less frequently.
28. Water according to plant needs and soil type.
29. Apply water slowly, to the base of plants, under mulch.
30. Avoid overspray and runoff.
31. Use low-volume drip irrigation.
32. Use emitter lines for closely spaced plants. Use individual emitters for widely spaced plants.
33. Install a WaterSense labeled smart irrigation timer. (And get a rebate from your water district.)

Source: UC Marin Master Gardeners ~ Image: unsplash

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