Improving Water Use in Your Yard

Water is becoming a hotly debated commodity in many areas, with increasing restrictions or regulations being placed on homeowners to conserve this limited resource as much as possible. With a significant portion of the water used by homeowners for landscaping and gardens, improving water use efficiency in your yard is a great place to help with conservation. By implementing the following recommendations, you can reduce your water use by up to 75%!

  • Design a landscape plan before putting in your turfgrass and other plants. Group plants together that have similar watering requirements. Also, use the natural terrain or landscape features to your advantage. If you have low areas that tend to collect water, plant species with high water needs there; choose drought-tolerant plants for high spots that drain water quickly. 
  • Improve the soil, so it retains more water. One of the best things you can do to optimize plant growth and water conservation is giving your plants a great soil to grow in. Add finished compost or another type of organic matter to all of your flower and garden beds before planting, tilling it into the soil. This increased organic matter will help hold onto the water and improve the soil structure so the roots can grow freely through the soil, accessing water that is found naturally, below the surface. 
  • Cover bare soil. Homeowners often overlook this simple tip to improving water efficiency, but covering exposed soil surfaces helps to significantly decrease the amount of water lost from the soil to evaporation. Add 2 to 5” of mulch to your flower and garden beds, keeping it away from the stems of your plants, to improve the soil water retention by upwards of 70%.
  • Optimize your sprinkler system. Installing a sprinkler system, especially an automated one, is a great way to optimize your water use when done correctly. It’s essential though, to install the correct system for your landscape and the plants. Utilize features such as dripper heads, and soaker lines where you can instead of only using spray heads that aren’t as efficient. Make sure the system is well maintained, and there aren’t any leaks or busted components that are wasting water.
  • Water wisely by using an irrigation timer. Having an automatic sprinkler system is a great feature, especially if you are prone to traveling during the summer, or are merely forgetful; it handles all of the watering events after the initial set up. But it isn’t without its flaws! Consider adding a smart irrigation controller that adjusts the watering schedule automatically by monitoring the local weather and accounting for cooler temperatures and rainfall events.
  • Create a deeper, more extensive root system on your plants. A longer root system on your plants and grass helps make them more drought-resistant. Instead of watering a little bit of water frequently, such as daily, arrange it so you apply a greater amount of water, less often. This naturally encourages the root system to lengthen and grow deeper into the soil. 
  • Time watering to reduce evaporation. A significant portion of the water applied to your landscape has the potential to be lost to evaporation. To help minimize water loss, water during the cooler times of day – early morning and later in the evening are best –  when evaporation is minimized. Avoid watering during the hottest part of the afternoon whenever possible. Wise Orchard does this automatically for you with its smart watering mode!
  • Make sure you are fertilizing correctly. When it comes to fertilizing, this isn’t a situation where more is better. Too much fertilizer triggers vegetative growth in your plants; more growth means more water used. On the flip side, though, if you under fertilize your plants, they become stressed from nutrient deficiencies and won’t use water efficiently. So you must fertilize your lawn and plants at recommended rates.
  • Mow your grass to the recommended height. All grass types have a recommended height range for mowing. During the hottest part of summer, stay to the upper limit of recommended heights to minimize evaporation and encourage the root system to move deeper into the soil. 
  • Aerate or dethatch your turfgrass as needed. Over time your turf creates a layer of dead or decomposing grass shoots, stems, and roots forms between the grass blades and soil surface. This layer of “thatch” creates a barrier that keeps water from moving down into the soil. Aerating or dethatching (two different procedures) helps by putting holes through the thatch, or reducing it overall, to improve water movement to the roots.

You don’t have Wise Orchard yet? Get it now! It’s easy to install like a hose timer, it connects directly to your Wi-Fi and you can control it from your smartphone.

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Gardening for Improved Mental Health

Many people enjoy gardening for the beauty it brings to their landscape, and the edibles it puts on their kitchen table, the benefits run much deeper. Gardening offers both physical and mental benefits (supported by research studies)  — to the point physicians, and physical therapists recommend it to patients young and old.

During the current time of uncertainty, more and more people are turning to gardening, whether indoors or out, as a way to stay busy and improve their mental health. Tending to plants helps relieve stress and lift depression. It’s also a way to open communication with friends, family, and neighbors who enjoy gardening.

Have you thought about trying your hand at growing something during the lockdown? Unsure of where to start? Then let me help! I’ll admit that even though my house and yard are FULL of plants, I’ve added a handful of new beauties to my collection in the last month.

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