We will be posting a series of blogs on sustainable gardening. To start this off let’s talk about how to conserve water and how to use water most sustainably.
Maybe the most obvious thing we would consider – after all we get plenty of rainfall here in the UK, so why not collect it. However, you will need a collection system that also allows you to easily use the water you have collected.
Water butts are easy enough to buy but consider the placement carefully. Not only do they need to be in a place where they can collect the rain, i.e. attached to the guttering/downpipe, you also need to be able to use the water easily. For instance, if the water butt is on the front of the house, and your plants are in the back, you will potentially be carrying the water quite a distance – and we all know that water is heavy!
There will also be some work needed to get the butts installed, such as cutting downpipes. You may not wish to do that, so if butts are not the answer, what else can you do?
If you have a natural water source in your garden, such as a natural spring fed pond, or a river you could consider pumping water to use.
There are several ways to reduce the amount of watering needed in the garden. These include:-
- Planting native plants, because they grow naturally in your specific region they are adapted to the climate, soil and rainfall in your area and will need less water. Growing native plants brings another sustainable benefit to the eco-system with the preservation of local wildlife.
- Mulching is another water-saving exercise that brings additional benefits. Mulching will reduce the water loss from the soil, thus reducing the need to water as often or as much, but mulching also reduces weeds, and if you use nutrient-rich mulch will add goodness back into the soil.
- Ensure that the right amount of water is getting to the right plants whatever method you use.
If you are lucky enough to be designing your garden from scratch, always consider which plants will be best suited to various areas of the garden. Plants that require little water are best placed in the warmest or sunniest parts of the garden, whilst those that are thirstier may well be better in a shaded or cooler area.
Vegetables are notorious for drinking a lot of water. Some of the tips that have been suggested above are equally applicable to your vegetable patch, such as using a watering can to “direct” the water efficiently and mulching. Additional tips include:-
- Plant vegetables that need a lot of water close together, such as tomatoes near your melons or corn.
- Add compost to the soil. Not only does this give the nutrients that you need to get the best vegetables, it improves the quality of the soil, and good quality soil will assist in efficient use of water.
- Water at the right time of day. Often we think that the cooler evenings are best, but beware that the water can sit on the leaves for too long and potentially cause some problems such as mildew. The best time to water is the cool mornings, before it gets warm enough for evaporation to be extreme.
An automated garden watering system can ensure that the right amount of water is being delivered to the plants – and also importantly, at the right time. Container plants can be time-consuming to water, and you can have an automatic watering system that covers your containers, including those hard-to-reach, but beautiful, hanging baskets!
There are several systems that can be used, and you should take advice from an expert rather than just lay some perforated hose around the garden and attach it to the outside tap!
Irrigation systems can be inconspicuous, quiet and fit around your existing garden with little or no disruption. Here at Instant Rain we can advise on the use of timers, waste water systems and the creation your own water source. Please get in touch. We would be very pleased to advise on your individual requirements.