Tips for gardening with water conservation in mind

Gardening is a great way to get out and enjoy our natural environment during the spring and summer months, but if done improperly can be a significant drain on water resources.

But gardening can be just as beautiful and fulfilling while still being conscious of water resources.

Implementing small shade trees, peat soils, organic fertilizers, gravel, perennial plants and a rain garden can help protect water quality.  Rain barrels can also be placed to retain rooftop storm water that would otherwise runoff into water resources.  The barrels can serve as an alternative source of water to irrigate a garden.

Small shade trees bring cool pockets of air, with windbreaks reducing drying effects on wind keeping a garden hydrated.

Soil type and depth have a great impact on water retention. Peat soils retain water and have a high organic content. Applying a layer of mulch over soil could be a way to limit evaporation from a garden. Adding a layer of gravel over this could help achieve maximum water conservation. Adding organic matter such as compost helps to retain water in soil.

Hanging baskets, a popular Mother’s Day gift, need daily watering. Individual containers need more water to create their own environment. Ceramic pots require openings in the bottom, but can serve as an effective alternative to plastic or wood pots which do not maintain their temperature in various seasons.

Deemed “a beautiful solution to water pollution,” a rain garden can help to prevent storm runoff from flowing into the Great Lakes, streams, rivers and inland lakes and replenish groundwater.  Use perennial plants native to Michigan with a layer of mulch over the soil for a low maintenance rain garden option.

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