If getting out in the garden daily and watering plants by hand doesn’t exactly jive with your schedule, there’s a solution that won’t use up all your spare time: gardening with irrigation systems and drought-tolerant plants. By installing an automatic irrigation system in our yards, we can rest assured our plants are getting regularly watered, even while we’re away on vacation.
Gardening with drought-tolerant plants is a total win-win. There are so many gorgeous varieties of plants that can handle longer periods without water—heck, there are even some that grow stronger when left to dry out for a while. Using less water is great for the environment, but it also saves us considerable time and money, so there’s a lot of reasons to love gardening with drought-tolerant plants. We’ve outlined the basics of irrigation, as well as some drought-tolerant plants you can grow here in St. John and Frankfort, so you can spend less time maintaining your garden and more time simply enjoying it.
Before we go about choosing which irrigation system to install, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of how and when we should water. Some garden plants can be a little finicky, so to make sure we’re giving them what they need, we should follow these basic guidelines:
- Water deeper, but less often. Provided we have healthy, uncompacted soil with decent drainage, the best thing for our plants is deep, thorough watering, with enough time in between watering again for the top few inches of soil to dry out. A little bit of water every day won’t do much for strengthening your plant roots, and too much water every day will just end up drowning or rotting the roots.
- Avoid the foliage, aim for the base. Many folks are quick to assume that plants like to soak up moisture from their leaves, but really, it’s the soil around the base of the plant that needs it the water. Plus, if our garden foliage is particularly dense, having moisture trapped between leaves could lead to mildew or other unpleasant fungal diseases.
- Do it early in the morning, or later at night. The soil is cooler during these periods of the day, which means it will hold onto moisture longer without it evaporating in the hot midday sun.
The beauty of an automatic irrigation system is the ability to just set it and forget it. Some are simpler, while some are pretty cutting-edge and technologically advanced. It simply depends on preference.
These irrigation systems act as extensions to our regular garden hose, which we can snake through our lawn, garden, or even container arrangements. Tiny holes along the length of the hose release water at ground level, mimicking the trickle of rainfall or manual watering. A lot of soaker hoses have built-in timers so we can develop a consistent watering schedule, and we can adjust them accordingly if there’s been heavy rain. If we want to kick things up a notch, we can get a soaker hose equipped with moisture sensors, so the hose will turn on at the perfect time when our soil has just dried out.
Who doesn’t love a sprinkler? They’re a double dose of lawn care maintenance and summer fun for kids! Setting one up in the yard will not only keep the kids busy for a few hours, but it’s also an effective system for irrigation because the water sprays up into the air and breaks apart as droplets, scattering across the lawn like rain. There are a few different sprinkler heads available that spread water in different directions and most of them are pretty effective, but we want to choose something that’s going to evenly coat our yard. If our sprinkler only reaches a portion of your garden, they need to be moved over after a couple of hours to make sure our plants all get adequately hydrated. We’ll also want to ensure your soil has good drainage before setting up a sprinkler because if the water starts to build up too quickly, it could get pretty mucky out there.
This is the most high-tech option available, and as you can probably guess, it’s one of the most efficient—it just takes some more effort for initial installation. It’s comprised of a system of underground pipes that run through your soil, supplying a steady trickle of water directly to the roots of your plants. Not only does this waste less water by delivering it exactly where it needs to be, but it also doesn’t drain out loads of nutrients from the soil, which tends to happen after frequent rainfall or manual watering. While a drip irrigation kit might seem a little complicated, they’re a great solution for large gardens. More and more residential gardeners in St. John and Frankfort have been making the switch over, and the phenomenal results are worth the investment.
Opting for drought-tolerant plants is another fantastic way to cut back on watering, but there are a few things to keep in mind when curating our garden plant assortment. Here are a few pointers for gardening and irrigation with drought-tolerant plants:
- Place plants with similar needs together. If we place a drought-tolerant plant directly next to a sun-loving, thirsty plant, it’s going to be hard to keep them both happy. A little background research on your chosen plants’ sunlight and water needs will ensure we don’t end up setting up a pair of incompatible neighbors.
- Water them well directly after planting. Even drought-tolerant plants need a few weeks to let their roots develop and establish, and watering thoroughly a few times in the beginning will help them to get a good solid base.
- Consider applying some mulch. Mulch is one of those gardening must-haves with a never-ending list of benefits, but one of the most significant bonuses is increased water retention. Mulch will help to seal in moisture, so our soil will stay moist and the sun won’t dry it out. It will also help to keep out weeds, which are notoriously greedy with resources like water and soil nutrients.
Want to add some drought-tolerant plants and flowers to your landscape? These colorful varieties should fit the bill:
As the saying goes, “work smarter, not harder.” By employing the proper techniques for irrigation and opting for drought-tolerant plants that don’t mind a little dry spell, we can save tons of time, plus a bit of money since we’re using up less water. If you’d like to explore the different options for irrigation available here in St. John or Frankfort, visit us at either of our locations, and we’ll be happy to recommend a great system for your garden!