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Gardening Efficiently: How to Save Water

Wasting Water Costs Money

I can't think of a single person who loves to stand outside with a hose watering plants. I can, however, think of many people who waste considerable water using sprinklers. They water plants, lawns, sidewalks, roads, neighbours, you get the picture. And they're paying for water on top of this.

Also, the weather is changing everywhere. Places which couldn't grow tomatoes easily can now support hardy olive trees and palms. And grapes. Places which once got lots of rain no longer do. Including where I live.

I have my own well, but it's not an unlimited resource. It's tapped into an underground aquifer, of undetermined size, with unknown other wells. And as the old saying goes, all good things must eventually come to an end. Including potable water.

Garden Soaker HoseConserving Water

Photo Rt: Soaker Hose that slowly drips water into the ground ensuring absorbtion

So I've been earnestly conserving water. No half loads of laundry or dishes, handwash dishes where possible and any soapy water goes over bugs on flower plants.

I catch tap startup water until it runs hot or cold, otherwise, wasted. 6 Litre toilets only here, and no flushing away bugs. Showers are short, baths are shallow. And if I can figure how to get the bath water out the window without breaking the new plants below, I'll be doing that too.

Truly, how many of us are so greasy that bathwater can't be reused outside? Any soaps will suffocate pests and be filtered by the soil.

Catching Water for the Garden

We have large plastic barrels for catching rain from downspouts. A can of spray paint for plastics blended it with the house. Newer rain barrels are more sophisticated with bug screens, overflow diverters, bottom taps, raised platforms and such. And they look pretty good too. And plants far prefer good old rainwater to treated stuff. If the weather has been especially dry before a rain, I'll also put out wide pans and bins to catch more. Kids' swimming pools are perfect for catching water.

Soaker Hoses and Drips

If the rain simply doesn't come, I'm ready for that with partly buried soaker hoses. These are black, tacky-like hoses which slowly ooze water all along their length. A 50 foot length is reasonably priced, and attached to a timer set for an 8 hour run once a week, it's very efficient. 8 hours sounds a lot, but the flow is very slow and soaks right down to the roots. And once a week is adequate. Snaked around important plants or extremely dry areas, it does the job well. My soaker hose is under my mulch, which protects it from UV rays, drying out and extends it's life. Drip systems will work just as well.


Garden Mulch, as I've mentioned in another article, is crucial to retaining moisture. Wood chips, decorative bark, shredded leaves, straw - whatever you choose, lay it on thickly after a good rainfall.

Most will eventually break down to beneficial humus, so top the mulch every year or second year.

Personally, I don't recommend hay as it's full of legume seeds which will sprout and create another problem. Gardening is about what you really like doing, not what you don't.

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