As the heat ratchets up, so does water use—costing homeowners money and doing no favors for the environment.
Amy Jo Detweiler, a horticulturist with Oregon State Extension, compiled the following tips to help you conserve water and save on summer water bills:
- When selecting new plants, look for options that use less water, such as native globe mallow, black-eyed Susan, sedums, blanket flower, lavender and coneflower. Once established, these plants require minimal irrigation. Group plants together based on their water use for maximum water conservation.
- Consider putting colorful bedding annuals in pots or hanging baskets where you can provide water directly, rather than watering the entire garden.
- Hand watering and automatic irrigation can be adequate if you are an efficient water manager. Monitor how much water is used and adjust it for warmer and cooler periods. Water in morning or late evening to reduce evaporation.
- If using automatic irrigation, consider drip emitters in clay-type soils and microsprays in sandy soils. Provide adequate moisture to the plant’s entire root zone.
- Soaker hoses are an alternative. Hook them to an automatic timer so you don’t forget to turn off the water. This works for vegetable and ornamental gardens.
- Encourage deep-rooted landscape plants by watering deeper less often. Look for clues to water stress, such as slight wilting or a dull, transparent look of the leaves. Adjust your watering accordingly.
- When you plant new shrubs and trees, provide a long soak from a hose to saturate the soil deeply in the immediate area. Repeat this process several times, especially during dry periods, to give your new shrubs and trees the resources to grow strong and deep roots that will require less water in the future.
Choose Wisely, Save Water
Horticulturist Amy Jo Detweiler recommends these plants for water-wise gardens:
- Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa). This compact deciduous shrub grows about
3 feet tall and 5 feet wide and sports sunny yellow flowers from June until frost. Best in full sun, but tolerates light shade. Hardy to zone 2.
- Globe blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Globosa’). This small conifer with striking silver-blue foliage grows slowly to
5 to 6 feet. Plant in full sun for best color. Hardy to zone 2.
- Manzanita (Arctostaphylos). This large genus of evergreen shrub varies from 2 to 12 feet. Interesting in all seasons, with hanging clusters of bell-shaped white to pink flowers in late winter to early spring. Hardiness varies by species and cultivar.
- Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius). Domes of white flowers in early summer show beautifully against the mid-green foliage of this 6- to 10-foot deciduous shrub. It has the added attractions of superb fall color. Hardy to zone 2.
- Serviceberry (Amelanchier). This shrub has it all: showy white flowers in early spring, edible purple-red berries that attract birds, and stunning red and yellow fall color. Wants full sun to perform its best. Grows 6 to 10 feet depending on the species. Hardy to zone 2.
- Snowberry (Symphoricarpos). In spring, small, bell-shaped blooms appear at the end of branches on this 5-by-6-foot deciduous shrub. The best part, though, are the white berries in fall. Birds love the berries. Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. Plant in full to partial sun. Hardy to zone 3.
- Wayfaring tree Mohican (Viburnum lantana “Mohican”). Flat-topped clusters of white flowers come out in spring and are followed by fruits that start out pink, turn to red and then black. This 7-by-8-foot rounded deciduous shrub turns deep purple in fall. Give it full to partial sun. Hardy to zone 3.