Jul 072009
5 Water Conservation Tips

On Monday morning I was on WAKM AM radio show Spotlight on Spring Hill again to talk garden talk. Since here in Tennessee we just had a 2 week dry spell I thought some water conservation tips would be helpful to mention on the radio. Here’s a few tips I gave:

1) Water in the Morning
If watering is necessary, water in the morning to reduce evaporation from the hot summer sun. Watering in the afternoon will lose more water and creates the ideal conditions for fungal diseases: hot and humid.

2) Water deeply and less often

Watering the soil deeply when you water will keep more water in the soil longer. It also encourages roots to grow down deep in search of that water, longer roots means stronger plants.When you water frequently the roots don’t have to grow deep into the soil to get water so they remain in the upper layers which makes a weaker root system.

3) Consider purchasing and using rain barrels.
Rain barrels will store water from recent precipitation for use later. The water that runs off our roofs is generally wasted water that would be great if used on a hot, sunny day in the middle of July. Most rain barrels store at least 40 gallons or more and will easily fill up after one short rain. The rain barrel in the picture can be found at Gardener’s Supply Company. For some great information on rain barrels take a look at the recent issue of the Tennessee Gardener where garden blogger Dee Nash has a great article explaining rain barrels and rain gardening. You should go pay her garden a visit!

4) Mulching
Mulching your gardens with a good layer of mulch (about 2 inches) will keep the soil cooler and retain much more moisture in the soil. Last Thursday I moved a plant to a new garden and dug into the soil underneath the mulched garden bed and found moisture, after almost two weeks of no rain. It’s almost like striking oil for the gardener!

5) Soaker Hoses not sprinklers

When you water use soaker hoses to keep the moisture on the ground. Sprinklers send water up into the air which increases evaporation and results in the plants receiving less water while you receive a higher water bill. Soaker hoses aren’t practical for watering lawns but unless you are starting new seed you really should go easy on watering the lawn. Covering the soaker hose with mulch also helps to increase the amount of moisture retained in the soil.

Hopefully rain will be plentiful this summer, but one thing is for sure, you can never count on the weather to do what you want!

(click on the pictures above to visit Gardener’s Supply Company)


Dave has written GrowingTheHomeGarden.com since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

Reader Comments

  1. Congrats on the radio show. I read Dee's article too and enjoyed it. Water tips are sure important but I'm so grateful for the rain we've received so far-I hope it continues.

  2. Good advice, Dave! Have you figured out a great way to water all of the raised beds? I really want to add drip to mine but haven't figured out the perfect way yet.

  3. Great tips Dave. I'm sure you mentioned to the listeners on the radio about buying native and heat tolerant plants. Also, lawns like about an inch of water a week. I know a lot of folks don't, or can't water their big yards, but for folks with small yards, a good way to know how much an inch is: measure an inch from the bottom on a few cans, set them out around the area being watered, turn the sprinkle on and time how long it takes to fill the cans to the inch mark – that's how long to water for an inch.

  4. Tina,

    I agree! I really do want the water to continue through the summer. It pays to be prepared just in case. We may be in for rain this coming weekend again, too bad it's not on a weekday!


    I'm using a series of 1/4 inch soaker hoses and solid line hoses in between the beds. I've been meaning to do a post on the irrigation, thanks for the reminder!


    Good tips too! I'll be on the radio again in a couple weeks so I'll share some more tips then. I only water the lawn when seeding new spots. I don't even water the lawn when I over seed. Since I do that in the fall there is usually enough rain for the grass. the tin cup idea is a great one. Native plants might be a good topic all on it's own!

  5. Watering in the morning is not just good for the plants but good for you not to have to be out in the hot sun… I have two water barrels and a soaker hose hooked up to them. Maybe next year I will add two more on the other side of the house. They are wondeful. I have musles caring watering cans!!! LOL

  6. Great tips Dave. We've had so much rain this Spring & now that I haven't had to water my lawn at all. The only things that got watered was the containers & that's not been very often even for those.
    Most of my gardening is in the containers as it brings things up for me. I do keep plants in containers also till I'm sure of where I want to put them for their permanent home.
    Wish I could hear your radio programs.

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