Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Water is so precious – please help!

We may have just had a deluge of rain but this no way makes up for the dry winter and spring we have just experienced. We need so much more to replenish the freshwater that is available for human use, and to water our stressed out trees and shrubs. As concerned gardeners think about helping to reduce the waste by adopting some, or all the following options:

1.       Plant drought-tolerant plants in the landscape. For a list go to http://extension.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/drought-tolerant-plants-landscape

2.       Let the lawn go dormant in the summer. It will bounce back in September with cooler temperatures and more rain.

3.       Improve the soil by incorporating organic matter to assist the water holding capacity of the soil. Working aged manure, compost, leaf mold, or untreated lawn clippings into the soil will help enormously.

4.       In the vegetable garden group plants in blocks to provide shade for other crops. Less water is used to water an area where all the crops are grown closer together.

5.        Avoid using an overhead sprinkler where some of the water falls on pathways, driveways and paved areas. Drip irrigations systems are much more efficient and less wasteful.

6.       Mulch around plants, once the soil has warmed up, to conserve moisture around plants and to suppress weeds. 2 -3” of straw, shredded leaves, or grass clippings is sufficient.

7.       Direct rainwater from your downspout into a rain barrel. It is much better for your plants than tap water and reduces runoff and pollutants reaching the groundwater.
If we don’t have at least an inch of water in any week you do need to water trees and shrubs and any newly planted or transplanted plants, but a good watering a couple of times a week is so much better than a little every day. In fact if you are watering your lawn everyday you are doing more harm than good as you are encouraging a shallow root system and fungal diseases.