The workshop was entitled "Gardening by the Drop". The first part of the
workshop concentrated on facts about water, water usage, and
contamination. The next part discussed BMPs ("best management
practices") to reduce runoff, erosion and contamination, including some
interesting formulas. The second day of the workshop concentrated on
horticulture practices that conserved water. Included were figures on
cost and consumption and lists of plants that require less water. Since
we are located in the South, some sessions covered types of soil, and
grass and plants, to consider for our soil, heat and humidity.
As I mentioned, I plan to incorporate several of the horticulture
practices mentioned as I imagine most of you already do and are ahead of
Using rain barrels under downspouts. I have one rain barrel that has a
bottom hose connector. Fortunately, it is located in the middle of a
narrow bed of ferns, caladiums, and hostas. With a "Y" connector, I can
connect soaker hoses and let the rain barrel water the garden.
Using downspouts to water gardens. Three additional gardens are located
near downspouts. I need to develop drains to use them to water those
Dividing the landscape into water-use zones can save time and water.
Locate the high water-use near water sources, usually near the house,
followed by moderate water-use zones that require watering occasionally
once established, and, finally, locating low water-use plantings on the
perimeter (native plants, junipers, crepe myrtles, yaupon holly, oaks).
Put plants with deeper roots systems in the "drier" zones. I haven't
done this and need to work on changing the location of some of my garden
Consider alternatives, such as ground covers, shaded patios/decks,
mulched areas, drought-tolerant plants, and planters, for high impact
areas to reduce water needs.
Use efficient irrigation practices such as watering only plants that
clearly need water, water at night or early morning, use drip tubing or
ooze hoses, use timers and rain sensors on your irrigation system, and,
use hand-held hoses.
Water upgrade since water runs down.
Water right before a storm to take advantage of the "membrane" principle.
Use more shaded areas and prune to let in light to select plants.
If you have an irrigation system, check to make sure you have the
correct number of heads, your nozzles are unclogged and not leaking,
check the pressure to make sure it is not too much or too little, use a
pressure regular and back flow preventer.
Target irrigation to plants that show signs of stress.
If you have grass, leave it 3" long to reduce evaporation. Grass at this length is 15 degrees cooler at the roots.
Use drip irrigation as it uses 30-50% less water than does a sprinkler system. Only 25% of the root area needs to be watered.
Use tree gators to water trees. To do this inexpensively, install a 5 gallon bucket with holes around a young tree.
Create rain gardens by utilizing runoff where you have slopes on your
property. (I have this situation in several areas and plan to make
better use of the slopes.) Locate rain gardens at least 10 feet away
from foundations. In-situ soil should have high infiltration
rate---1"/hour and the soil filter rate of 2.5"/hour. Look for plants
that can tolerate wet/dry conditions. Mix natives with non-natives.
Gutters can be piped to gardens. Rain gardens should be clear of water
in 3 days to avoid mosquitos. Soil mix for rain garden: 1/3 gravely
sand, 1/3 sandy loam, and 1/3 compost leaf or horse manure compost (high
During droughts: mulch, use grey water, don't plant thirsty annuals, don't fertilize or prune.
Use a "gator blade" on your mower to more efficiently create grass
clippings which can be left to help hold moisture and add nitrogen.
Roof gardens can reduce heat by 40% (Chicago study), reduce noise (5"
green roof by 40 db), and save on roof repairs. Although this is very
tempting, I don't have an opportunity. Most of the cost savings are in
original buildings rather than retrofitting.
Plants for slopes in sun: junipers, cotoneaster, ornamental grasses, day
lilies, sedums, abelia, pyracantha, St. John's Wort, thyme, dianthus,
virginia creeper, weeping love grass, crow vetch, carolina yellow
jasmine, algerian ivy (good substitute for English Ivy).
I also have plant suggestions for drought tolerant trees, ornamental
plants, shrubs, vines/ground covers, annuals/perennials, and sun and
shade slopes if anyone is interested.
Bonnie Zone 7/7 ETN
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