Global warming, pollution and the ever increasing consumer needs all indicate that fairly soon our fresh water supplies will unfortunately seriously decrease. Paradoxically, the rains are becoming increasingly scarce, and water supplies are inexorably drying up : excessive evaporation, glaciers that melt too quickly, environmental irresponsibility and a society that increasingly consumes water are all factors indicating that easy access to water will no longer be a commodity.

Water is a vital resource that is unfortunately not inexhaustible. Thinking about water management becomes more than essential: controlling your plant’s watering is one of the ways to take part to this initiative.

Why manage water?

Eventually, the water supplies will no longer satisfy the demand, which means that we will be forced to drill deeper, to exploit water bodies. This involves the costs to make the water safe, the health risks due to pollution and, ultimately, their depletion, causing the disappearance of living beings that live there or use these water bodies for food. Awareness and taking appropriate action as soon as possible, either on a global or individual level, are essential for the future. We are moving towards a widespread shortage of water, with repercussions on everyone’s well-being, but also on the performance of agriculture, industry, recreation…

Moreover, anyone can see that the use of water does not occur efficiently, there is too much unnecessary waste. Thus, for gardening, for example, a better approach must prevail, because each plant has specific needs, we must give it the amount of water it needs and no more as the excess will evaporate uselessly. Additionally, the ground’s composition must also be taken into account, as some soils can hold more water than others, thus constituting a water supply and allowing for more spaced out watering. But water management also relates to its quality: irrigation water must be carefully chosen in order not to find polluting or noxious elements in one’s plants.

Acquiring good habits

To not always water due to evaporation, some simple measures can limit the phenomenon. We can keep and preserve soil moisture by covering the base of plants with grass clippings, old newspapers and cardboard (which also helps to eliminate weeds). In addition, this coverage will decompose to created the nutrients the plant needs. Furthermore, by choosing to water in the morning or late afternoon, evaporation will be much less significant.

Moreover, we can make use of waters other than those coming from the tap. Thus we can, for example, use rainwater which is not only much healthier (it only contains limited amounts of limestone), but is also abundant and free (except of course for the storage system). Water from air conditioning condensation, or the washing machine’s rinsing water, can both be collected and used for watering. The water in which vegetables were washed may also be collected, as is the case for the water used to cook a boiled egg: quantity is certainly minimal, but it contains many nutrients. One can even go further by recycling waste water: obviously, this is cannot be done by everyone, but it fits into a larger context of possibilities for rational use water.

Some chemical fertilizers and pesticides may necessitate a more important use of water. Highly concentrated, they may require a more abundant watering, or they may dry out the ground or eat away at the plant. Therefore, these products must be chosen wisely as not to increase water use: in this case, natural or organic products are more appropriate, on top of which they promote environmental protection.

Choosing efficient and optimized irrigation solutions

Currently, many technological solutions are available for better management of irrigation water, with the primary objective of reducing water consumption. Current systems allow for concentrated watering on the plants themselves (no need to unnecessarily water the surroundings), and a sprinkler that provides the plant with the right amount of water. With these systems, plants receive regular watering and the amount of water used is controlled much more efficiently. Among these many solutions, two systems of which the efficiency and economics are proven, are available on the market: micro sprinkler irrigation (the system is placed above the plant), and drip irrigation (system that directly waters the base of the plant).

Of course one can establish his or her own system (by attaching a pierced bottle at the base of the plant, by piercing a garden hose and adjusting the holes to the base of the plants…) But for reasons of aesthetics and efficiency, it would be best to acquire the appropriate materials or to entrust the work to a professional. We can also lay down underground pipes, an automated system (which can be programmed for various operations such as watering time, duration, water flow, etc..), as well as devices for watering a maximum surface area, such as fixed jets which spray three times the area covered by a rotating jet. Avoid watering the lawn during the summer even if it turns yellow in July and August. Prefer plants that are resistant to drought.

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Published in Garden maintenance by Alexander on 06 Jul 2011