In the Garden:
Lower South
April, 2013
Regional Report

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Drip irrigation is easy to assemble and a great way to water your garden and landscape more efficiently.

Water Wise

Dry conditions are not just for the arid West. We have experienced serious and extended droughts in various areas of the southeastern states in recent years. However, it doesn't take a drought for us to face water shortages. Growing cities require increased water supplies, putting a strain on the rivers, lakes, and aquifers that supply our water.

How do we build and maintain landscapes and gardens that minimize waste and get the most garden per drop? Here are some tips to get the most from the water you use.

Create a Smart Design
Group plants with similar watering needs on the same irrigation zone. Include areas where little supplemental watering is needed, and when possible even unirrigated areas.

Select Plants That Need Little Supplemental Watering
Minimize the use of plants that need a lot of water to survive and look good. While there are many plants that can survive drought, not all look good during dry conditions. Do some research and include watering needs when selecting plants. Not all water efficient plants are natives. Some non-natives may be very well adapted to your area and deserve their place in a water efficient landscape.

Check Your Irrigation Efficiency
Irrigation systems can be evaluated to check their efficiency. Common problems that result in wasted water include misaligned spray heads, pressure that is too high or too low, and mixing types of sprinkler heads in an irrigation zone. The irrigation evaluation will also provide the rate of application so you can know how long to run your system.

Take Advantage of Technology
There are some great ways to save water by using technological advances. Put a rain switch on the system to prevent it from irrigating during or immediately after a rain. Install drip and microjet irrigation in garden beds to minimize evaporation losses and put the water where it is needed, at the plant's roots.

Water Deeply and Infrequently
Shallow, frequent watering promotes shallow rooting and irrigation dependent plants. The best way to water most plants is to provide a good deep soaking that wets the root zone of a plant, followed by a period where the soil is allowed to dry out. This brings oxygen into the soil and helps build a deep, extensive root system that will be more drought resilient.

Keep What Nature Provides
When it does rain it makes sense to hold on to the water that falls on your property. Terraces, swales and rain gardens are ways to slow runoff and help water to soak into your soil's "bank account" for future withdrawals. Rainwater harvesting in cisterns or barrels is another great way to save the best water a plant can get! There are many online resources for learning how to collect the rainwater that falls on your roof.

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