water saving advice

It's hot! Or hot for Oregon, anyway.... As native Southerners (Suthnurs), we've seen hotter temperatures, but we still can't help but feel the heat of those first days above 90 degrees. The plants are feeling the heat, too, and on these warm summer afternoons, many of them look a little wilty or dry. Before you pull out the hose or turn up the irrigation, take a moment to read a few short and long term tips for reducing water usage. It's easy to water, and especially easy for experienced gardeners (ourselves very much included) to fall into old habits. Below are a few short and long term water-saving ideas. We welcome your ideas in the comments!

Buell watered his Austin, Texas garden once a month.  Photo from 2001

  1. Short-term: Don't water every wilty plant! Especially in the first hot days of the year, some plants wilt in the warm afternoons, but bounce right back when the temperatures drop.  Check the soil around dry looking plants for moisture - not just at the top, but feel around a couple inches below the surface.
  2. Short-term: Water at night or in the very early morning when humidity is high and evaporation rates are low.
  3. Short-term: Don't "set it and forget it." Irrigation systems can be a great part of reducing water usage, but it's very easy to set a schedule and not think about it again. Turn the cycle down or off in cooler periods and up in warmer periods, rather than setting it to water as often as "might" be needed.
  4. Long-term: Mulch at least once a year. Mulch feeds the plants as it breaks down, looks great, insulates roots and reduces evaporation from the soil. We love the Garden Compost from Lane Forest Products.
  5. Long-term: Plant for your desired watering schedule. One or two thirsty plants can mean that a whole bed of hardier plants get more water than they need. Buell reduced his Austin, Texas garden to a once-a-month (yes, month) watering schedule by letting his watering schedule guide his plantings, rather than the other way around.

There are lots more tips and ideas out there, but these are a few easy ideas that we revisit every summer.

Stay cool!