Cultivating a Culture of Gardening™

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Water, water, everywhere…

“Sustainability.” “Water Restrictions.” “Shrunken reservoirs.” “Xeriscapes.” All these catch words drift in and out of summer conversations in the gardening world. With a growing consciousness to be water wise, many folks from large businesses to patio container gardeners are looking for ways to create the botanical beauty they desire without the constant concern of moisture control. Here are few ideas to help you maintain your garden throughout a simmering summer.

…And Not a Drop to Spare.

Water Wisely:

  1. Evaluate when you water. The best time for watering is in the wee hours of the morning so the plants have a chance to drink deeply before the harsh sun wants to take its share. Whether you have an irrigation system or need to buy a timer for your hose, get your plants watered before daybreak if possible.
  2. Evaluate how you water. Most established garden beds are healthier with a deep watering between days of no watering rather than frequent brief waterings. These brief sprinkles encourage the roots to grow upwards or stay closer to the surface. Plant roots need to be trained to sink deep where moisture lingers. Remember that a 10-15 minute heavy afternoon shower, while filling up your rain gauge, mostly likely did not sink down to soak your roots before being evaporated away.
  3. If you’re inclined to spend money on irrigation, don’t irrigate your trees and shrubs. Use a soaker hose when establishing new plants and keep the soaker around for the random droughts that we experience. Spend your irrigation money on your lawn and garden beds. Several water wise irrigation systems to look into are and My irrigation expert says that drip irrigation is the most efficient. Some folks have found success with “Gator Bags” or “water rings” during droughts or new plant installments. My farm girl version is to fill up 3 plastic milk jugs with water, then poke 5-7 holes with a safety pin along the bottom curve of the jug. Place the jugs round the base of the tree, securing it to the tree with twine run through the jug handle. Refill jugs as needed.
  4. Use native plants. Tennessee has a wealth of native flowering perennials, shrubs, and trees that already are acclimated to our wacky weather. Learn about Tennessee plants from or Margie Hunter’s great book “Gardening with Native Plants of Tennessee”. Take a field trip to:

Grow Wild Nursery (799-1910)

7190 Hill Hughs Rd.


Nashville Natives

7443 Liberty Rd


  1. Pray for rain. And when it comes, collect it in a rain barrel. Lots of new products are coming on the market so when I find the best ones I’ll pass the info on, or let me know of your best user friendly rain barrels.

Watering smart is not just a suggestion; we all need to make it a way of life.



At August 2, 2010 at 10:16 AM , Anonymous Dave@TheHomeGarden said...

Great tips! I'm working on adding more natives - particularly the grasses - to my garden. The panicums are awesome! Margie will be coming to out garden club meeting in October. I got to hear her talk last year at a Master Gardner Meeting. She's a great resource!

At August 2, 2010 at 1:20 PM , Blogger Kylee from Our Little Acre said...

Lots of great information here, Barbara! Love the container planting. I want to know what those short gaillardias are! THAT'S what I need instead of those gangly tall things!

At August 3, 2010 at 8:40 PM , Blogger barbara wise said...

Thank y'all for stopping by the blog! Kylee, I checked my planting records and I think gaillardia is Arizona Sun, which stays short and compact.
Dave - I'd love to come hear Margie if you outsiders come visit your club!


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