Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Upper South
April, 2013
Regional Report

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It pays to learn the ways to have a beautiful garden while minimizing water use.

Wise Water Use

It's unlikely that anyone who gardens consciously plans on hurting the planet. Usually, our goal is to make the world more beautiful. Yet, how we tend the garden does, indeed, have an impact, either positive or negative, on the greater world around us. Certainly, there are a number of ways that we can participate in greening our gardens. Being sensible about water use, however, particularly hits home with many of us, not only because it has an impact on the future availability of this valuable resource on a global scale, but also because it has a direct impact on our pocketbooks.

As you begin this gardening season, consider how you can use less water in the garden without sacrificing its beauty or productivity.

* Chose plants that either tolerate drought conditions or that naturally grow in dry conditions, especially ones native to your area.

* Install a rain barrel at as many downspouts as possible and use the rain water for watering your garden.

* Before planting your vegetables or when creating a new garden bed or border, work in plenty of compost. Increasing the organic matter in soil helps it hold moisture.

* Apply at least 3 inches of mulch that will decompose within a year, such as shredded, partially decomposed hardwood mulch. In the short run, this will hold moisture in the soil. Over time, this will increase the organic matter in your soil.

* Choose non-porous pots for container plantings. Moisture evaporates more slowly from these than from terra cotta pots. Add super-absorbent polymer water crystals to the potting mix.

* Rather than using a sprinkler to water a large area, water plants directly, using a watering can or a soil-soaker nozzle on your hose.

* When you do water, be sure to soak the soil deeply so that the plants develop deep roots.

* Reduce the size of the lawn or eliminate it altogether. Do not water any lawn that you do have.

For more advice and design ideas for low-water landscape design and water savings, check out, written by the editors of Sunset magazine. Although written for Western gardeners, the information and many color photos of drought-resistant gardens will inspire you to wise water use.

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