Watering is an essential part of gardening – but how should we go about it?
40% of American rivers and 25% of Western and Central Europe’s rivers are extremely polluted.
For the past two decades, raw water reserves are degrading at alarming rates.
It is now crucial to preserve this resource. Using it responsibly is one way of doing this.
Did you know?
- On average, only 1% of the annual supply of drinking water is actually drunk.
- Half of the world’s population will meet extreme water shortage in the course of the next quarter century.
- Preserving this rare resource is getting more and more important.
We often water too much and inappropriately.
First, reduce the amount of watering needed
Mulch and deep soil, let nature store water
Nature has many ways to store excess water, so a wise gardener finds ways to take advantage of it.
- Spread mulch everywhere you can: in flower beds, shrub beds, under fruit trees, to the side of walkways…
- Increase soil depth with raised gardening.
- Even lawns needn’t become ‘water sinks’: plant kikuyu grass, dethatch and topdress to turn rock-hard lawns into healthy, water-absorbing surfaces.
Lastly, using hydrogel in the garden is a way to store water and retain it for plants.
Water only during appropriate seasons
Water evaporates very fast under direct sun.
- In summer, it is much better to water in the cooler evening hours. These cool hours give plants and soil time to ‘drink up’ before all the water evaporates.
- In fall and spring, on the other hand, only water in the morning to avoid freezing.
Plant native plants
Native plants evolved over millennia to survive only with whatever water is naturally there.
- Ultimately, when selecting plants suited to the climate for your garden, you can do away with watering altogether!
What to use for watering
Best type of water for watering
Rainwater not only reduces your water bill, it is much healthier for your plants and vegetables, too.
- Best is to set up a rain water recovery system.
- Most rooftop materials are safe, but in some cases runoff may include contaminants. This is the case for brand-new roofs. Freshly painted roofs or those with peeling paint aren’t ideal, though.
- Generally, perfect materials for roofing and water collection are traditional, natural ones: slate, thatch, terra-cotta shingles, wood shingles…
Other types of water should only come as a backup:
- Tap water usually has chlorine and fluoride to control infections and bacteria, for instance.
- Watering with bottled water is a clear example of waste: all that pumping, filtering, packaging and transportation! Keep it for more essential needs such as preparing baby formulas and drinking for vulnerable people.
- Ground water or well water is often loaded with too many minerals. As a result, irrigated soils often show signs of mineral poisoning.
- Runoff water from roads picks up many pollutants. For example, small dust from tires, brake pads, and exhaust fumes contain heavy metals. They might end up in your vegetables! Even for flower gardens this isn’t ideal because polluted pollen kills bees and butterflies, too!
Smart tip about watering
World Wildlife Fund tip: Check weather forecasts before watering, there is always a chance rain will fall soon!
Watering on social media
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Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Gardener watering lettuce by Karolina Grabowska under Pixabay license
Watering flowers (also on social media) by Alexander Raths/adobestock