Summer is officially here. That means water resources are tightening-up for the long, dry season ahead of us. Water-wise gardening is an efficient way to reduce your water consumption and to make a positive impact this summer!
Water-wise gardening is simply making educated and thoughtful choices about your plant selection, your watering methods, landscaping practices, and watering routines. There are many great resources out there on water-wise, native, and drought-tolerant plants for your garden. If you have a gardening service, It is important to communicate your ideas regarding irrigation settings, mulching, and yardwaste recycling.
One small, but significant way to reduce excess watering is to shorten time limits on your automatic irrigation system (35 percent of irrigation water used is in excess of plant needs) and adjust your sprinkler heads to ensure they are watering the garden only, since most excess water ends up as runoff on sidewalks, driveways, and in storm drains. Be sure to pay attention to your garden, your plants will let you know if they are thirsty!
Collecting, or harvesting wastewater and rainwater are two great ways to save and reuse water, through storing and applying your “used” water back into your trees, pots, and garden beds. Summer is a great time to design, build, and install your rainwater catchment system. It is a great summer project and much more enjoyable to install on a sunny, warm day, than a cold, rainy day in December!
Graywater, on the other hand, is untreated wastewater collected from household activities such as hand-washing, laundry, and bathing. One example of graywater harvesting is putting a 5-gallon bucket under the shower head while you shower, then use the water you’ve collected to water your potted plants.
Not only is composting the ultimate form of recycling in the garden, but a compost-rich garden is also extremely water-efficient. Compost is nature's best soil amendment, and it has many other environmental benefits: it reduces the amount of yardwaste in the landfill, reduces trips to the landfill, conserves water in the garden, and it decreases the need for synthetic pesticides and fertilizers through increased soil biodiversity.
So, this summer, instead of tossing all your garden prunings into the greenwaste bin or the garbage, start your very own compost pile. Learn how to compost at The Forge Garden composting workshops this summer. Recycle your garden scrapes into black gold, and watch your plants thrive and your watering needs plummet!
California is entering its annual dry-season where we won’t see much rain for the next six months, so it is important to respect our natural climate and neighboring communities. Most of our Northern California water is transported long distances from the eastern mountain ranges and diverted through a maze of dams and reservoirs. For the average urban setting, 40-65 percent of our household water usage is used to irrigate our lawns and gardens. This valuable water is also critical for agricultural production, drinking water, and communities in surrounding regions and states.
Using water-wise gardening methods is a significant way to reduce your environmental footprint and water consumption. Thank you for respecting our environment and our communities!