Copy of 2016_06_28

The hot weather is here, and that means spending more time in our outdoor spaces. Whether it is a BBQ, pool party, or simply lounging in a chair with an iced coffee – now is the time to appreciate your backyard or patio. The summer time also means extra work in maintaining our outdoor spaces, and yes, that means watering our grass and flowers.

Figuring out exactly how much to water (and when) can be confusing at times, so here are few tips to get your lawn looking its best while conserving as much water as possible:

Prepare a Lawn/Garden that Uses Less Water

  • Consider plants that use less water. Plants like lavender, palms, mimosa and verbena are great options.
  • Keep your grass on the longer side. Set your lawn mower to cut no lower than 6 – 8 cm. This helps keeps the roots shaded and able to hold water.
  • Aerate your lawn once a year in the early spring or fall to improve water penetration. Apply a thin layer of organic material and distribute evenly and you can over-seed at this point to help thicken the lawn.

Take Care of Your Soil

  • Add organic matter to your soil to help retain moisture and feed your plants.
  • Include mulch in flowerbeds, hanging baskets, and around shrubs and trees to help prevent the evaporation of moisture.
  • Know your soil. Light sandy soils need more watering than heavy soils, while clay-based soils can be watered less frequently, but need more water.
  • Water slowly to allow soil the chance to soak up water and avoid run-off.

Re-Use Water Whenever Possible

  • Collect rain water. Divert run-off water into rain barrels, containers, or tanks. Here is a thorough article on how to collect and use rainwater at home.
  • Reuse greywater. Greywater is the relatively clean waste water from baths, sinks and washing machines. You can install diverters that connect the water from your bath to an irrigation system. (Household soaps and detergents are harmless to plants, but do not use water containing bleach, disinfectant or strong cleaners). Here is a helpful article on recycling household water.

Use the Right Amount of Water

  • Apply about 1 inch of water once a week and skip a week after a good rainfall. How will you know if you have watered an inch? Place an empty tuna can on your lawn as you evenly water the area – when the water reaches the top of the can, you have supplied enough water. You can now time how long it takes you to fill the can and set a timer on your sprinkler.
  • Change up your watering routine depending on the weather. Leave a measuring container in the yard to help monitor the amount of rainfall supplied to your garden in the preceding week.
  • Deep watering is better than frequent watering, it encourages deep roots.

Water at the Right Time

  • Water plants in the evening, or before 9 am, when it is cooler to reduce evaporation.
  • Water on calm days to prevent wind drift and evaporation.

Find the Watering Method that Works for You

  • Sprinklers: great for maximum coverage but cannot target specific sections. Best used to water the lawn and soak unplanted areas.
  • Hoses/Watering Cans: labour intensive but precise. Use to water plant bases and beneath leaves, keeping the surrounding soil dry to limit weed growth.
  • Automated Irrigation Systems: saves time and effort but are a more expensive option. They allow water to drip or trickle into growing areas whenever you program them to do so.

Do you have a tried and true way of taking care of your lawn while conserving water? Let me know!