Watering WiselyBy Paul Rodman (paulgrow)
March 13, 2008
According to the US census bureau the 28 counties that comprise the Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan area has a population of some 5.1 million people. The majority of these people are in real danger of running out of water. Not a water shortage but totally running out of potable water for drinking, bathing etc. The record drought has Lake Lanier the primary source of drinking water for Atlanta and DeKalb County in danger of going dry within a few short months if much needed rain doesn’t arrive.
Here in the metropolitan Detroit, Michigan area double digit water hikes are a fact of life in suburban communities supplied by the Metro Detroit water system.
Those of us who are gardeners have our own unique decisions to make as far as how we use our water, how often and how much. I have some tips on how to use your water wisely, how to conserve it.
We could carry it on our heads like the lady in the thumbnail picture above, but I have some more efficient ways in order to use our water supply efficiently.
Drip Irrigation Systems
I’ve been using one for 5-6 years and absolutely love it. I use a Mr. Landscaper system. This system is easy to install and parts are available at Lowe’s. They have a large variety of emitters so that you can customize the system to fit your garden.
1/2" poly tubing is used for drip systems Drip Stake assembly
This system can save you up to 90% of the water used by a conventional sprinkler. Each emitter delivers 5 gallons of water per hour right to the root zone of the plants. Using conventional watering techniques loses too much water to run off, over spray, and evaporation; it also saves time by not having to move hoses and sprinklers around your garden.
A drip system consists of a ½” poly tubing trunk line which can be laid on top of the soil, I bury mine under the mulch. Stake assemblies are connected easily to the tubing and misters are screwed into the stake assemblies. Installation is very quick and easy. Mister Landscaper has an emitter that directs the spray downward to the base of the plant and the foliage doesn’t get wet; this is especially helpful when watering plants like roses.
The system can be expanded easily to fit your growing garden
Soaker hoses can save you 70% of the water used by conventional sprinklers. They are made of 60% recycled rubber from tires so that you are doing your part to help the environment.
Soaker hoses come in varies lengths and designs
These are placed in the beds around the drip line of your plants and you connect your garden hose to the soaker and water seeps from the soaker into the root zone. I use a quick connect fitting on the soaker and my garden hose to make hook up quick and easy.
I like to use my soaker hoses around shrubs and trees buried underneath the mulch.
I have found from personal experience that these hoses have a life of about 4-5 years before they begin to rot.
Do not exceed 100’ in length with your soaker hose for best performance.
Be sure to use a back flow preventer on your outdoor spigots.
The cost of a 50’ hose is in the $10-$20 range
Once you’ve delivered the water to your garden you need to keep it in the soil for as long as possible. The best way to do this is by using mulch.
Mulch comes in organic and inorganic forms. Organic is much preferred as it breaks down and adds organic material to the soil. Organic forms are grass clippings, leaves, hay, straw, shredded bark whole bark nuggets, sawdust wood chips, shredded newspaper, etc.
A 2-3 inch layer of mulch will help to keep the soil moist as well as deterring weeds.
Watch for a companion article coming soon on an alternative source to provide water for your lawn and garden.