Spending time outdoors in your yard or garden is a great way to relax and escape the stresses of everyday life. But why not take your relaxation up a notch by creating a stunning outdoor oasis? It’s easier than you might think. Plus, if you’re concerned about having to spend time and money keeping everything watered, we’ve come up with eight tips to help you create a water-efficient oasis.
Choose the Right Plants
The first step to ensuring you have a happy, water-efficient oasis is picking the right plants to go with it. Native plants are a great choice, because they’re used with the soil and the amount of rain where you live, and will need little care. Tropical and exotic plants are eye-catching, yet their water and humidity requirements are very high, something even the traditional lawn is also guilty of. Drought-tolerant plants, or those that are fit for xeriscaping, are very water-efficient. Also, you can use ground coverers, such as hosta, creeping thyme, or even fescue grass, to prevent your soil from losing water due to evaporation.
Rainwater is a great way to ensure that your garden is water-efficient, as well as environmentally friendly. All you need to do is set up barrels to collect rainwater in, then use it as and when needed. The best part about rainwater is that it has no chlorine, and it’s free. Even if you live in areas that don’t get a lot of rain, there are some other tricks you can use, such as saving up your cooking water and using it when it’s cooled down, or even the water from aquariums.
Add Mulch to the Soil
Adding mulch or organic matter to the root of your plants will not only provide them with much-needed nutrients, but also create a layer that keeps the moisture inside the soil. This will prevent water from evaporating too quickly, keeping the soil cool, as well as reducing the overall watering needs in your oasis. Mulch is an essential addition to your garden, especially if you live somewhere with sandy, less fertile soil.
Whether you’re watering your garden or relying on rain, it’s important to ensure that the water stays in the soil. An easy way to do this is by building drainage ditches or diversion drains that end next to your garden beds. Swales and terraces also help with intercepting the water, and spreading it around your plants.
Check Your Watering Schedule
When you water your garden is just as important as how often you do it. In order to maximize water efficiency in your oasis, it’s best to water it early in the morning, or before noon. This will ensure that less water is lost due to evaporation, as well as prevent damaging your plants, due to shock. Also, make sure that you water your plants at the root, rather than pouring water on top of the leaves. However, bear in mind that plants will need more water when they’re flowering or fruiting, or during a heatwave.
Use the Right Pots
Decorative pots can add a touch of color to your outdoor garden, yet the material they’re made from will also impact how often you need to water your plants. Terracotta is a popular choice, but given its porous surface, it can lead to the soil drying much quicker. Plastic containers may not enjoy the same popularity, but they are cheap, and very efficient at preventing moisture loss. Perhaps the best option is glazed ceramic pots — just make sure that they have a drainage hole at the bottom, to prevent root rot.
Keep the Weeds Out
Admittedly, weeds can be good for your garden: they attract bees, prevent soil erosion, and can even keep pests at bay. However, weeds are also notorious for their fast growth, and in the process, they can strip water and nutrients from the soil. So if you’re aiming for water efficiency, it’s always best to stay on top of your weeds, and remove them regularly. One thing to bear in mind: as tempting as it is to upcycle weeds by turning them into compost, remember that they are very resilient. Their seeds and perennial roots can survive a cold compost, so make sure that your composting temperature is at least 120°F.
Create Shaded Areas
A spot of shade in your outdoor oasis is something both you and your plants will enjoy. Shaded areas prevent water loss in the soil due to evaporation, as well as keep the air cooler and humid. You can easily create a bit of shade using umbrellas or pergolas, climbing plants on trellises, and even trees that need less water, such as evergreens, Ginkgo, palm trees, or fruit trees like persimmon or quince.