When water’s precious it pays to prioritise where and how you distribute the water. Concentrate your watering where it’s needed: young seedlings to help them establish, salad leaves to stop them wilting, fruiting vegetables like tomatoes and anything growing in a pot.
Focus water on the roots of plants, not on the foliage, larger water droplets of water are better than a fine mist which will easily evaporate. Avoid strong spray from a hose which may knock plants about or blast potting soil out of containers, instead use low pressure from the hose or place the end of the hose in a watering can so that it fills as you pour. This means you can water carefully and precisely, enjoying the convenience of a hose – without wasting a drop!
An automatic irrigation system, connected to a timer, will take the strain out of watering. Set it to come on very early in the morning, before things heat up, or in the evening when the sun has gone down. The best setups use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to deliver water right at the base of plants, near the roots. Some can even be fitted to water barrels, so you can make the most of any rainwater you’ve managed to collect.
Utilise grey water where possible. Shower and washing machine water are great for your garden. Install a water tank to catch any rain you do receive.
Adding wetting agents and water saving crystals to your soil will help it retain moisture. There are many commercially available options on the market, or you can simply add dishwashing detergent or shampoo to water to make your own wetting agent. The absorbent crystals in nappies make for great water saving crystals, repurpose lightly used nappies by tearing them open and removing the gel crystals and mix into your soil.
Water from the Bottom
Watering pots from the bottom, rather than the top, can save a lot of time – and water – in hot weather. Fill up a suitable-sized reservoir, adding any liquid feed you’d like to apply at the recommended rate. Now sink your pots into the water and simply walk away, leaving them to soak up the liquid for an hour or more. You can speed things along by adding a splosh of water to the top of the pot before it’s left to soak. This technique ensures a really thorough watering that makes very efficient use of water.