Just as water is vital for human life, the plants, trees, shrubs and grass in any landscape also require hydration. However, how much water is used and what watering strategies gardeners choose can have a direct impact on their wallets.
“Nobody likes to waste money, but it easily can happen in the landscape if you’re not careful,” said David Hillock, Oklahoma State University Extension consumer horticulturist. “Gardeners need to water enough to keep their plants healthy, but overwatering can cost them extra money.”
Hillock advises gardeners to water deeply but infrequently. Allowing the water to soak into the ground and letting the soil dry out between each watering will force the plants to produce strong, deep roots. Also, when setting up the sprinkler, make sure the water is landing on its intended target.
“It’s a waste of money to water the sidewalk, driveway or road,” he said. “Consider postponing watering if it’s fairly breezy as the wind will carry the water away from the plants you’re watering.”
He said mulch is another way to help conserve water.
“Mulch serves a number of purposes in the landscape. It helps retain soil moisture, prevents erosion, controls weeds and increases soil quality,” Hillock said. “It also adds texture and visual interest to the landscape. There are several different types of mulch available, including wood chips, bark and straw, so choose one that enhances the look of your garden.”
Keep in mind that mature plants and trees have developed deep root systems and can be watered less frequently.
For people who have automated irrigation systems, Hillock said make sure the sprinkler heads are positioned correctly to ensure water is landing where it needs to go.
“A rain sensor is a good thing to have on a sprinkler system. It will turn off the irrigation system if it happens to start raining while the system is working,” he said. “It also will keep it from coming on if it has rained recently, which can be a great money saver. Fix or replace any broken heads. Also, be sure to adjust the system in the fall and winter as the landscape won’t need as much water during that time of year.”
Hillock also said to keep a close watch on the water bill. A sudden increase in the bill, or soggy areas in the yard, can indicate a leak in the system.
Another cost-saving tip is to take advantage of the free water Mother Nature provides. Position the downspouts from the home’s gutter system to the lawn or flower beds. Another option is to invest in a rain barrel.
“Gardeners want their landscapes to look as good as possible without breaking the bank on the utility bills,” Hillock said. “Implementing these strategies will help ensure your landscape looks as good as possible without wasting water.”