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Sat, Sept. 14

The art of waterwise gardening

Making a few changes in your garden care can yield great benefits. Less time and water means more time for you to relax or entertain friends and family in your beautiful landscape.

Water is critical throughout the life of a plant, but deciding when and how much water to provide each plant can be confusing. Make this task easier and conserve moisture with these simple strategies.

Start by matching plants to your growing conditions. Selecting plants suited to your climate, soil moisture and average rainfall means healthier, better-looking plants and productive gardens with less supplemental water.

Incorporate organic matter such as compost into the soil prior to planting. This helps the soil more efficiently absorb rainfall and irrigation water. Less runoff means less water wasted.

Adding organic matter increases the ability of fast-draining soil to hold moisture, extending the time between watering.

Mulch the soil with organic materials such as shredded leaves, evergreen needles or woodchips. Mulching helps conserve moisture while suppressing weeds and improving the soil as the mulch decomposes. Another advantage of mulching is the benefit of recycling landscape trimmings back into the landscape.

There will still be times when you need to lend nature a hand. Sprouting seeds, young seedlings and new transplants need consistent moisture to grow and establish a root system. Most annual flowers and vegetables also need consistent moisture throughout the season.

Newly planted perennials, trees and shrubs also need more attention and water than established plants with deeper roots that are better able to absorb more moisture. During extended dry periods, even established plants will need supplemental water.

Providing the right amount of water at the right time can help ensure your gardening success.

Take the guess work out of watering with a drip irrigation system like the DIY WaterWell Irrigation System Drip Line Kit (gardeners.com). Drip-irrigation systems apply water to the soil right above plant roots, exactly where it’s needed.

Run a line next to each row of plants - or every 18 inches in planting beds. The water slowly seeps through the holes in the irrigation system and into the soil. The slow, steady flow moistens the root zone, encouraging the development of deep, drought-tolerant roots.

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