Garden Water Conservation – Adding Mulch and Soil Polymers

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,262
    Paul Simon, Landscape Horticulturist with the National Gardening Association shows you how to add mulch and soil polymers.

    Paul Simon: Hi! I'm Paul Simon, Landscape Horticulturist with the National Gardening Association. Today, we're talking about how to conserve water in your garden. Now, we'll discuss other techniques you can do to retain moisture and conserve water in your garden.

    First, mulch and soil polymers can help retain and save moisture in your garden. Mulch helps in many ways to conserve water in your garden. First, it helps even out soil temperatures from the sun. Secondly, mulch serves as a blanket of protection to the soil. This blanket greatly reduces water loss by evaporation. Third, it suppresses against weed growth. Mulch reduces the amount of weeds that compete with your plants for moisture.

    Mulch helps control against water runoff, therefore helping to improve water infiltration. This helps keep the water where you intended to go to your landscape plantings.

    What are soil polymers? Soil polymers are small, jelly-like spongy substances, also called water crystals, that are mixed into the soil. They take out moisture. Then, slowly release it back into the soil. Soil polymers effectively help your plant bed retain moisture for longer periods of time.

    One of the best ways you can conserver water in your garden is to plant drought tolerant species. Of course, it is very depending where you are in a country, but you can check with your local Cooperative Extension Service, Master Gardeners Program, local nurseries, or garden centers for a list of suggested plant varieties. You can conserve your water use by selecting varieties that will thrive with a minimum of irrigation.

    Group plants with similar water needs in areas that retain either more or less rainwater. So each plant receives the right amount of water to be healthy and vigorous. For example, when planting varieties that need more moisture, place them in one area of your yard, so you can focus your watering where it's needed most. You will also reduce the amount of time necessary to water your garden.

    Let's talk about a rain garden, and capturing stormwater runoff. Areas such as roadways, parking areas, roof tops, and walkways have solid surfaces which let water flow across and collect debris, contaminants, and pollutants.

    In order to protect our sensitive areas from these pollutants, a rain garden provides us a place where we can discharge our storm water, and let this water soak into the ground, and infiltrate these pollutants.

    How big is a rain garden? Well, it's not very big at all. It's about 12 to 18 inches deep, but no more than two feet. It'll contain a variety of shrubs and herbaceous plants that are capable of withstanding periodic saturated soil conditions.

    Let's talk about pervious pavers in lieu of solid surfaces. What are pervious pavers or permeable pavers, and how can they help us conserve water? Pervious pavers provide a solid surface while allowing water to infiltrate and soak into the soil.

    How does this happen? Well, pervious pavers are uniquely designed to create voids or pockets between the pavers, which allows storm water runoff to infiltrate into our soil. Our landscapes also benefit from this rainwater collection, by allowing this infiltration process to happen.

    I hope I've helped you learn some simple techniques that can help you save, capture, and conserve water in your garden, as well as protect our natural resources. Good luck!