There no question—winter has been a long time going, and spring a long time coming (at least here in New Jersey!). Now that the weather has finally lined up with the calendar, gardeners are anxious to beautify their flowerbeds. However, instead of running to the nursery and just purchasing what looks attractive, take a little time to plan. Doing so can make your flower beds more water-friendly, impact water bills by reducing waste, cut down maintenance time, and result in a distinctive garden that will have your neighbors green with envy. Here are my top water planning tips for spring flower gardening.
#1: Contain it
Instead of planting everything in the ground, design a “container garden.” Add flair by choosing a variety of pot sizes and styles, and plant all your flowers in them. Plant a variety of flowers in one pot, then rearrange them throughout the summer to change up your look. Container gardens allow you to water in a focused spot and water less because pots help the soil retain moisture and eliminate run-off and erosion.
#2: Be tolerant
Do a quick online search and you’ll discover there is a ton of beautiful, “drought-tolerant” plants out there, such as lavender, verbena and bougainvillea. Set a goal to fill the majority of your garden with these and really cut down your water usage this season.
#3: Pucker up
Vinegar has a variety of uses in flower gardens that offer safe alternatives to herbicides, pesticides and plant nourishment. Some bed mainstays, such as begonias, actually feed on a vinegar-water solution. The more you can do to eliminate chemical applications in your garden, the better it is for the water supply.
#4: Put like with like
Group plants that have similar water needs. This way you can avoid overwater and under-watering.
#5: Accessorize wisely
Rain barrels come in all styles, from rustic to modern. Make them part of your garden décor.
#6: Go not-so-green
Consider non-living alternatives for ground-cover plants. Rocks and pebbles, pinecones, sea glass and the like can add wonderful pops of color with no watering required.
Lastly, once the planning and the planting is done, remember the golden rules of watering: never set an automatic sprinkler, water only as necessary and be in control of water usage; water in early morning or after the sun begins to set; water the roots not the leaves; mulch; and know your plants’ needs to avoid over-watering.