Release from 30.05.2022
Whether plants are in a bed or on a balcony or patio, they are brightening up their surroundings, providing shade, storing CO2 and regulating the temperature. But they need to be watered efficiently and with pinpoint accuracy if they’re going to make it through hot and dry spells.
Meteorologists have been warning us about climate change and seasonal shifts for some time now. Areas that used to be humid are experiencing more and more hot summer droughts. With dry spells often crossing into the spring and autumn too, groundwater reserves cannot be topped up very much, if at all. When the rain finally comes after a long dry spell – sometimes falling heavily – the dried-up ground cannot absorb the water and this causes flooding.
Natural climate control
Some of this flooding is actually the direct result of the ground being covered over with tarmac or gravel, leaving the water no chance of soaking away or cooling and evaporating. By contrast, areas filled with plants can absorb and store water, which takes some of the pressure off the drainage system when heavy rain does fall. These green areas do not heat up so quickly. In fact, they cool the air down through evaporation from the leaves and provide shade, which in turn minimises the evaporation of water from the ground. Plants also absorb fine particles, clean the air, produce oxygen and even absorb sound. Most importantly of all, they provide birds and insects with shelter and food. The power of even the smallest gardens and balconies should not be overlooked. In many places, the total area of private gardens outstrips the size of the region’s nature reserves.
Everyone wants their garden to be looking beautiful and easy to take care of all year round. Animals appreciate a good mix of woody plants and shrubs. Lavender, sage, scabious and astrantia are all examples of perennials that do not require a great deal of effort. And an Amelanchier tree can bring a garden to life with blossom, colourful autumn leaves and berries for the birds. Staggered flowering times in a sustainable garden keep gardeners happy all year long, while providing ongoing food and shelter for animals.
Just the right amount
But what needs to be done to keep a garden gorgeously green and sustain the food, shade, shelter and temperature control benefits for people and wildlife during dry spells? Here are a few ways to use water sparingly and responsibly:
- Water the roots and not the leaves.
- Water plants early in the morning. Less water evaporates when the earth is cooler.
- Avoid waterlogging because even plants can drown.
- Using rainwater to water your plants is more economical and the plants like the softer water.
- Soil rich in clay keeps the water supply constant and avoids waterlogging in plant pots.
- Group together plants based on their needs because they will have similar water requirements. Pick plants that are acclimatised to the weather conditions rather than struggling with exotic species.
Generally speaking, it’s all about getting the balance just right: as much as necessary but as little as possible.
Clever use of water
Grouping together plants that have similar water and light requirements makes life easier for gardeners. And watering plants can be even more efficient if the watering can is left to one side and the roots are targeted directly.
Automatic drip irrigation provides plants with exactly the amount of water they need right at their roots. And because fungi are no longer able to settle on wet leaves, the plants are healthier too. Correct irrigation ensures that the nutrients remain in the soil close to the plants’ roots, rather than being washed away into deeper soil layers or even into the groundwater. Another benefit is that the system deters weeds, as the available water is largely absorbed by the cultivated plants and flowers.
Watering can be skipped altogether if there has already been enough rain. Smart irrigation systems have sensors to measure the moisture content of the soil and local weather forecasts are factored into the schedule too, ensuring that the plants are only watered when they need to be.
Drop by drop, this enables the irrigation system to achieve water savings of up to 70 per cent – without any detriment to the plants. A study carried out by the renowned Institute of Horticulture at the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences confirms this: The use of automatic, targeted drip irrigation results in more efficient water use, as well as improved growth, an increased harvest, and healthier plants.1
Irrigation schedules save on water and allow gardeners to get more sleep. After all, getting the time of day right is another factor in watering plants efficiently. If plants are watered overnight when the earth is cooler, less water will evaporate and the plants will get the water they need ahead of the heat rising again the next day. Smart watering solutions take on the role of the early bird so gardeners do not have to, with irrigation schedules even being updated as the sunrise and sunset times change with the seasons.
More information on efficient water use can be found in the GARDENA e-book Clever Watering and at www.gardena.com/cleverwatering. Find more ideas for natural gardening in the GARDENA e-book Sustainable gardening: tips and inspiration for colourful biodiversity.
For over 50 years Gardena has provided everything passionate gardeners need. The broad assortment of products offers innovative solutions and systems for watering, lawn care, tree and shrub care and soil cultivation. Today, Gardena is a leading European supplier of high-quality gardening tools and distributed in more than 100 countries worldwide. Gardena is a brand of Husqvarna Group. Further information on gardena.com.