Drought Fighting Tools
- Know your soil type, and irrigate accordingly. Irrigate more frequently for sandy soils and less often for loam, still less for clay.
- Get a moisture meter – These handy gadgets cost less than $10 and can be purchased at your local hardware store or nursery. They consist of a dial or gauge with a 9-12” metal probe. When you stick the probe in your soil, the meter tells you how much moisture is in ground up to the depth of the probe. It will tell you if you’re getting water in your plants’ root zone.
- Check your irrigation system frequently – pipes, tubes, sprinkler heads, drippers are all prone to problems - and problems mean lost or wasted water.
- Convert to a drip irrigation system – Hand watering can be useful occasionally, but it is generally very inefficient; overhead sprinklers are far less efficient than drip.
- Hydrozone--which means grouping plants with the same water needs.
- Move drip emmiters away from the plant core with growth - provide water at the dripline.
- Manage your automatic controller - change the settings monthly, as the ED requirements and plant needs change, not just once or twice per year.
- “Smart controllers” are a recent innovation. Instead of setting the watering time and interval, the controller takes into account the daily weather, plus the specific landscape and environmental factors for each irrigation line in your yard. Then, these controllers calculate your watering requirements! Once you understand the principle, they are easy to program. Not all smart controllers are alike – a little research is useful.
- If you still have any lawn, remove it - or turn the water off, and let it die, to remove it and re-plant in the fall. Yes, it'll be unsightly for a while, but you're better off saving scarce water for plants and shrubs.
You need not give up your garden altogether because of the drought. If you make good plants choices, use the appropriate tools, and develop good observation skills and monitoring habits, you can surround your home with beauty and still be sensitive to the current water crisis.