By Kelly Holland
You’ve been thinking about “going green,” and you’re wondering where to start. Did you know only a half percent of the planet’s freshwater is available for human use? Water conservation is an easy way to help our environment
. Although Florida is one of the rainiest states in the U.S., droughts do happen. And some locations are experiencing water shortages, as withdrawals from surface and underground sources exceed the rate of recharge.
Your garden is an excellent place to start your water-saving ways. And it doesn’t have to be challenging or time-consuming.
Up to 70% of groundwater can evaporate on a hot day if nothing is stopping it. Mulch
is an easy way to keep water in the soil’s surface and let you go longer between sprinklings. Stay away from fine mulches that can clump and repel moisture. Instead, look for coarse mulch, like wood chips and shredded bark, which allow water to move down through to the soil. Make sure your mulch doesn’t stay too wet, as this can cause plant-rot and attract rodents. Mulched gardens are ideal because they are more drought-resistant and have fewer weeds.
Time of Day Matters
Running the sprinkler on your garden in the heat of the midday sun is a waste of time and water. The sun will simply burn the droplets off. Water early in the morning before the sun comes up. Timely watering gives moisture a chance to soak into the soil, keeping it damp for as long as possible and encouraging your grass to root deeply.
Use Native Plants
Plants that occur naturally in Florida have adapted to the local climate, soil, and water conditions and so are best for your garden. Native plants
require less moisture, as their deep root systems increase the soil’s capacity to store water. They can survive primarily on rainfall, decreasing the need to irrigate. Native plants can also significantly reduce water runoff and, consequently, flooding. Additionally, native plants are generally far easier and less expensive
to maintain than non-native plants.
Change How You Water
Install a rain barrel, an inexpensive water-saving device. Check with your city or town. Many municipalities are offering incentives to homeowners who integrate rainwater with their irrigation system. What a great way to start in your new manufactured home
! If a rain barrel isn’t an option, consider drip irrigation or a soaker hose. The plants will be watered right at the roots, which will keep the water from evaporating too quickly. These irrigation methods work better than hosing down your garden and are more cost effective, as you can water an entire row at the same time.
Use a Moisture Sensor
Soil moisture sensors
measure the water content of the dirt. It takes just a few seconds to use and can cost as little as $30. The sensor probe helps save money by letting you know when the soil is wet so you can stop watering. The indicator has levels of “too dry,” so you need to water. “Just right” means no action is needed, and “too wet” means avoid watering. If you’d rather not spend the money on a moisture sensor, you can use a screwdriver to test soil moisture. If it goes in easily, don’t water. If it doesn’t go into the ground, turn on your irrigation system.
Kelly Holland is a gardening and landscape design writer who loves experimenting in her kitchen. Her quirky nature loves a bright color palette so naturally, her coveted garden is covered in a rainbow of fruits, vegetable, and flowers.