Cool water splashing overhead, sliding on wet grass, almost everyone remembers running through the sprinkler on a hot, summer day.
But who knew that a conventional sprinkler can spray around 600 gallons of water an hour! The water crisis and conservation is on the forefront of the news, with demand for water in some states exceeding the natural supply. As we head into the driest part of the gardening season, Molbak’s has some tips and tools that can help you be environmentally conscious, conserve water and still have your garden and lawn looking healthy and beautiful.
Start from the ground up
Overhead sprinklers have their use for watering lawns and large spaces, but the best way to water gardens efficiently and effectively is to surface water. Trickle-drip systems and soaker hoses target specific areas and add moisture directly to the soil at your plants’ roots where they need it most. Place hoses in and around your beds, about 2 feet apart, adding an extra loop around moisture-loving flowers and shrubs like hydrangeas. Then add a light layer of mulch, to help reduce evaporation even more.
Once your system is in place, water long and deeply. Time how long it takes for the top 6-8 inches of soil to become saturated (or 8-12 inches for large shrubs and trees). Then you can use an automatic timer, to ensure your plants are getting just the right amount of water to keep them happy and thriving. And remember, the best time to give your plants a drink is early in the morning, to prevent disease and avoid evaporation.
Traditional grass lawns need about an inch of water a week (including rainfall) to stay healthy and green. If you have an irrigation system, be sure to test it every year and make sure your sprinkler heads are watering the grass and not your driveway! Oscillating sprinklers are great for small lawns, and pulse sprinklers work best for large areas. A rain gauge is a handy tool to help you determine how long you need to water.
High impact, low water
Another way to conserve water is in your choice of plants. When planning your landscape, group plants with the same watering needs together. Add drought-tolerant bloomers like lavender, coneflower and shrubs like barberry and California lilac. Groundcovers are a great alternative to grass, just think – no mowing! Steppable groundcovers like brass buttons (leptinella) and elfin thyme mimic the look of lawns, and need a fraction of the water and care. Or plant blossoming native kinnikinnick or vinca; both are great alternatives for reducing your lawn’s watering footprint.
A combination of careful planting, timing and tools will help keep your gardenscape healthy as well as lower your water bill and conserve our most precious of resources. Come to Molbak’s and browse through our selection of sprinklers, hoses, irrigation systems and drought-tolerant plants to create a water-wise oasis in your backyard.