Water Well

Use these smart techniques to conserve water without leaving your garden thirsty.

By Lauren Sloane

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smart watering strategies save water and encourage growthBeyond the sprinkler
When it comes to watering techniques that best conserve water, you have a number of options. Spray wands are portable and easy to use for watering containers and smaller gardens. For more efficient, even, and deep watering, OG Test Gardener Debbie Leung, in Olympia, Washington, recommends investing in a good soaker hose. These hoses are easy to use and allow you to maintain a slow, constant flow of water in densely planted areas without feeding the weeds in your garden at the same time.

Add compost to conserve soil moisture
Improving your soil's moisture-holding capacity is as simple as mixing organic material, such as compost, into your beds. Depending on the type of soil you have, more organic matter can mean more accessible water for your plants. Dense clay particles commandeer most of your soil's moisture, decreasing the amount of water available for your thirsty camellias and cucumbers, while sandy soils drain water too quickly for plants to absorb it. By adding in some hearty humus, you'll give water something to hang onto until your plants need it most.

Mind your mulching
Another way to keep your garden moist (and reduce weed problems by up to 90 percent!) is to top off your beds with a fresh layer of organic mulch. Mulching with materials like dried grass clippings, straw, bark, wood chips, and even small rocks will decrease soil moisture evaporation and reduce your garden's water needs. Bonus: Mulching may also prevent certain kinds of soil diseases from coming in contact with your plants' lower leaves.

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