‘Water smart’ gardening
By Vicky Page, Garden Expert
We all need to use water carefully when gardening - using it efficiently and not wasting a drop. Here are some Water Smart tips that will help you carry on gardening and using available water in the most efficient way possible.
Make the most of every drop
Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Enriched Compost Pots & Baskets has an exclusive Aquacoir formula that takes the guesswork out of watering. This unique compost stores and releases water when plants need it, absorbs twice as much water as ordinary compost and feeds plants for up to 6 months. This way you make the most of every drop!
Improve the soil structure in your garden by digging in a compost such as Moisture Control early in the season.
Set up a water butt
Collect rainwater from the roof area of sheds, garages and conservatories. If you have one already connect another one with a simple siphon hose. Keep the lid in place to reduce evaporation.
Puddle when planting
Water the bottom of the planting hole thoroughly and add soil conditioner when replacing the soil. A circular wall of soil will hold water immediately over the root ball of your plant and prevent run-off and waste.
Water deeply - not little and often
A daily sprinkle of small amounts of water will encourage roots to the surface and make plants more prone to drought damage. To get water down to root level sink a plant pot or plastic tube beside the plant and fill with gravel. Watering through the device once every fortnight ensures the roots get the moisture and less is lost to evaporation.
A layer of material spread over the surface of exposed soil will reduce evaporation. It also shades the soil and keeps it cooler. You can use any organic matter including straw, grass clippings not previously treated with a weedkiller or even newspaper, but they are unsightly.
For an attractive finish that adds beauty to your borders try decorative bark - which helps soil retain moisture.
Use moisture holding composts in containers
Hanging baskets and patio containers need regular watering, so it’s especially important to use potting composts that can hold most water. The more water absorbed by the compost means less is wasted by run through.
Keep weeds under control
Weeds steal water and soil nutrients. Hoeing between plants will kill off annual weeds but encourages greater evaporation from the soil surface. The Water Smart way is to use Weedol Gun! Rootkill Plus or Roundup Gel - the soil surface is not disturbed and weed seeds are not moved about ready for later germination.
Use bath water
Save water by showering with the plug in place. Use a plastic container to bail out the water without damaging the bath surface. To neutralise soap alkalines add a teaspoon of liquid plant food to each 5 gallons of grey water.
Don’t use re-cycled water on potted plants, but apply around plants growing directly in the ground or onto lawns.
Feed your lawn early
Feeding the lawn before the onset of hot, dry weather will encourage the development of a deeper root system. Complete lawn treatment has a Water Smart Formula that helps build a thick, green lawn with stronger roots which absorbs water and nutrients more effectively. This helps protect your lawn against heat, drought and stresses.
Don't cut the grass short
Keep the grass longer than normal and allow grass clippings to fall onto the lawn rather than in the grass box. This shades the soil surface, keeps roots cool and slows down evaporation.
The water holding capacity of ordinary composts and garden soil can be increased amazingly easily by adding moisture control gel. These granules can absorb up to 150 times their own weight in water, releasing it to plant roots whenever it’s needed. All you need is a couple of teaspoons for either 10 litres of compost or a square foot of garden soil.
Feed annuals and vegetables
Shallow rooted plants such as flowering bedding plants and most vegetables appreciate a weekly feed with a soluble plant food such as soluble plant food. The added nutrients and trace elements will encourage the development of an extensive and stronger root system that can easily support more flowers and better growth.
Water early morning or evening as the sun and the wind speed evaporate water from the soil surface.
Plant drought resistant plants
Some plants enjoy dry soils and cope better with drought than others. Examples include: lavender, geraniums, verbascum, buddleia, achillea, sedums, spirea and hebe.