Watering Wisdom: Tips for Efficient Water Use in Your Garden

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One thing you absolutely need in your garden

There is something all gardeners need to figure out when planning a garden. 


Without it, our plants can’t grow. Our watering systems will vary depending on factors such as how many plants we have, where we are, and how much rain we get, but one thing is certain: Water is a critical element in our garden.

Our watering needs change with the seasons, and we need to adapt alongside our garden’s needs. I’m located in Houston, and our hot summers (especially without rain) can present a challenge for garden hydration, while we don’t need to do much in the winter.

In this blog post, we will explore different ways to water our outdoor plants, as well as how to use water efficiently. These methods include rainwater harvesting, hose watering, and using watering cans. 

Ways to water your garden

Let’s break down some ways to water. 

1. Rain Barrels

Rainwater harvesting isn’t legal in every state, so make sure you do necessary research before jumping in. It’s legal in Texas, so I installed two 50 gallon rain barrels under my gutters to collect rainwater that would otherwise collect on the ground. I use this rainwater to fill watering cans that I then use to water my plants. I like this process because the rainwater has nutrients that benefit my plants, and I don’t have to rely entirely on water from my hose. This is especially helpful in the summer months when water is in high demand – although the amount of rainwater I have is contingent on the amount of rain we get, so I may have empty barrels during a drought. When the rain comes regularly, I use rainwater as much as I can instead of the hose. 

2. Hose

I use the hose sparingly, and only when it’s needed. I have an attachment with different spray options so I can direct the water in the stream that’s best for the situation at hand. Using a hose to water leads us to a gardening consideration: What are we planting?

If we plant tropical plants but don’t live in a subtropical climate, we will need to water them more to compensate for the lack of natural hydration. This is one reason why you may have heard about planting plants that are native to your area. Not only are they beneficial for the ecosystem by supporting local wildlife, but they have evolved to the specific climate they are native to. This means that under normal conditions, they are prepared to grow with the natural rainfall of your area and shouldn’t need any “intervention” with additional watering. 

3. Watering can

This is the tool we often imagine when we think of gardening. They help us bring water around our garden, and help us use the water deliberately. While the hose will water continuously (unless we stop the flow), the watering can distributes water only when we tip it. This allows us to be intentional with our water and not waste it on parts of our garden that don’t need it. 

Learn from my experience

My garden is a combination of native plants, tropical plants, herbs, trees, and more. The best seasons for gardening in Texas are spring and fall because we get a freeze or two in the winter and the summers are hot and dry. As I shared earlier, I don’t need to water much in the winter, but I’ve learned a lot about watering in the summer. 

There are a couple of things I do to keep my garden maintenance practical while still having water-loving plants in my yard. 

1. Layering plants: “Two for one”

I position plants in layers so if I water one plant higher up, the excess water will fall into another plant that’s positioned underneath it. This way I am watering “two for one.” 

2. Grouping plants

I love tropical plants and would love to have massive monsteras and philodendrons all over my yard. But, this isn’t practical in Houston so I try to put my water-loving plants close together so when I water them with the hose, the stream is maximized. Any “fallout” water goes into another thirsty plant instead where it isn’t needed.

3. Making garden choices that make sense for my area

As I shared previously, I would love to have certain plants all over my yard, but I know it doesn’t make sense for where I am. After a particularly dry summer, I realized it took much time, energy, and resources to water (and worry about watering) plants that are not equipped for Houston. This led me to have fewer of them in my garden, and instead focus on more plants that are hardier for my zone. 

Final tip: Know your zone

The United States is divided into different “zones,” and we can learn about our zone from ​”The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.” This map “is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which perennial plants are most likely to thrive at a location. Following the guidance associated with your zone will help you make practical decisions for what you plant, as well as how you water, and save you a lot of heartache trying to grow things that won’t do well.

Tropical monstera deliciosa

Native passion vine

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