Sustainable Watering Tips with Roots Landscape Design


Summer is a season of flourishing flower beds, veggie-filled gardens, and shady green trees - a truly special time! With that said, this precious plant life requires serious attention during the hottest months of the year - namely, a lot of watering. But when you want to keep the health of the planet AND your plants in mind, knowing exactly how, when, and where to plant and water your flowers and veggies is crucial in keeping them healthy while conserving resources at the same time. To help you navigate the waters, we asked Nate T. from our friends at Roots Landscape Design to give us a few no-fail watering suggestions - read on for five of his top tips. 

1. Right Plant, Right Place: Using native plants creates visual interest but also helps to reduce the need for over and under watering that grow outside your climate zone. Before selecting any plant material, we recommend always confirming your growing zone, whether the planting area is shady or sunny, and testing your soil to see whether or not certain nutrients or amendments should be done. Your local state cooperative extension should provide this service to residents at a low cost (if not free!)

2. Drip Irrigation Systems: We install drip irrigation systems on most new planting projects. Unlike a standard spray head system, drip irrigation systems are installed within the landscape bed under the mulch - this allows for water to directly percolate into the roots system. Watering roots directly allows for healthy growth and proper drainage without damaging precious foliage caused by the force of spray heads. This also helps reduce bacteria growth caused by too much moisture in the leaves and branches. We recommend setting your irrigation timer for early morning so that the plants have sufficient time to absorb the water before the hot hours ahead. Remember to monitor your plants and turn up the watering cycle as needed.

3. Rain Barrels and Water Harvesting: Rain barrels are another way of saving on water costs and being environmentally friendly in the summer months. We have installed numerous rain barrels in both city and suburban settings to much success. They are easily installed on most existing downspouts and come in a lot of decorative options. It’s also a great option for people who have children and want them involved in gardening.

4. Mulching and Overplanting: We recommend mulching your planting beds at least once a year. We use either triple ground bark mulch or leaf compost. Triple ground bark mulch is made from just tree bark and has the most nutrients for your plants. It is also the most natural, with no dyes or chemical added. Leaf compost can be made on site for little to no expense. By raking and storing old leaf matter from the year before, you can spread this around your landscape and within your container to both retain moisture in the soil and add nutrients.

When designing new landscapes, we often add more plant material than the typical homeowner thinks they should. This is for two reasons: one, for instant gratification with large sweeps of color and texture, the second reason is to have plant material completely covering the planting bed and mulched area. This is to prevent weeds from sprouting, to retain moisture in the soil, and to protect the soil from being exposed to the sun and wind.

5: Let Your Lawn Grow: During hot and dry seasons, your lawn goes through a lot of stress. By reducing the amount of times you cut your lawn, it allows for your grass to grow longer and also establish healthier roots. Also raising the height of your lawn mower blade will let your lawn to grow longer and fuller. This helps the grass to shade its roots and reduce evaporation. You can also reduce watering your lawn in the summer months. Grass is very resilient and will return in the cooler, rainer months. By restricting lawn watering of lawns, you save money, energy, and time to focus on the health and beauty of your garden.

“You are the brains behind the operation,” Nate reminds - you know your garden better than anyone, and simply listening to what it’s telling you is often the best thing you can do for it. Hopefully Nate’s expert advice simply helps you be an even more efficient and environmentally-friendly gardener.

And with that, we’ll be taking Nate’s expert advice to the garden.


Photo credits: 1. terrain 2. ISED solutions 3. Arlington County 4. terrain 5. Tobias Kuendig

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