Garden Water Conservation – Proper Irrigation and Alternative Water Sources

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,753
    Paul Simon, Landscape Horticulturist with the National Gardening Association discusses proper irrigation techniques and alternative water sources.

    Paul Simon: Hi! I'm Paul Simon, Landscape Horticulturist with the National Gardening Association, and today we're talking about how to conserve water in your garden. And now we'll discuss proper irrigation and alternative water sources.

    Carefully consider how much water your garden needs. Be sure that if you have an irrigation system, it is in good operating condition, repair any broken or damaged parts. When working properly irrigation systems can quickly and evenly spread water in a timely and conservative manner.

    However, damaged irrigation systems or systems set to run at longer than needed intervals can be big water wasters. Make sure that your irrigation controller is set to water each portion of your landscape efficiently. Each zone can be set individually for different watering periods. Make sure that the sprinklers are aimed properly, there is nothing more wasteful than watering a driveway, street or side-walk.

    And if you're planning to put a new irrigation system, make sure that you install adjustable heads. The adjustable heads will allow you to aim and flow precisely where you want the water and make adjustments when necessary throughout the growing season. A rain gauge or soil moisture sensor is essential within irrigation system. The gauge or sensors stops the cycle of irrigation whenever it needs. Nothing bothers me more, when I see an irrigation system and operation either during or following a rain storm.

    In northern climates it's important to winterize your irrigation system. If not drained from the system properly, water can freeze, crack, and damage your irrigation lines. Similarly you want to winterize your outdoor water spigot; the shut off valve may be located in the basement, after closing the valve open the spigot to remove any remaining water.

    Many people have issues with cracked or leaky water spigots in the spring, because unfortunately they left on the water flow to the spigot line, which automatically freezes and damages the spigot connection. Consider using newer frost-free faucet configurations, which help keep the pipe between the water spigot and the indoor shut off valve empty and free from water.

    Think about implementing some easy-to-install green solutions, such as storing rainwater in barrels. Choose the down spout adjacent to a garden, where you intent to recycle the water to empty into a rain barrel. Make sure the barrel can be placed on a leveled surface. I recommend that you install a three-inch layer of crush gravel with stone-dust for your barrel to rest on.

    There are concerns about contaminants or heavy metals that may wash from the roof, especially with asphalt shingles. Although there is no hard evidence of this. So when using a rain-barrel in your garden, make sure that you use the water for your ornamental plants and your garden plants, but not a vegetable garden.

    Check the soil conditions in your planting beds, if the soil is fairly moist then there is no need to water. Watering is only necessary when your beds are dry or slightly moist. If leaves are yellowing or dropping you may be over-watering.

    Okay, that's it on proper irrigation and alternative water sources. Up next we'll talk about reducing lawn maintenance to conserve water.

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