Water Conservation Practices for Vegetable Gardens

Water Conservation for Lawn and Landscape January 05, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Ornamental plant varieties can be chosen based upon water use. Grass can be allowed to go dormant during dry seasons. However, choices for low water vegetable plants are limited. Thankfully, there are some water conservation practices that can increase water efficiency.

  • Adding organic matter in the form of compost, animal manure, grass clippings, and leaf mould are ways to improve the soil by increasing water holding capacity and improving soil structure.
  • Planting in blocks instead of rows creates a canopy of leaves that shades the ground and reduces evaporation.
  • Create wind breaks to reduce evaporation from leaves and soil.
  • Apply mulch to retain soil moisture and keep soil cool.
  • Check plant needs manually—vegetable plants should be watered according to need, not a schedule.
  • Water during cooler parts of the day to reduce water loss.
  • Switching from a sprinkler irrigation system to a drip or soaker hose system can reduce water usage by up to 50%.

vegetables in a raised bed

    

close up of micro greens irrigated with a soaker hose

                               

Vegetable garden planted in one foot square blocks.
Photo credit: Dave Calder Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

 

Greens watered with a soaker hose.
Photo credit: Cpt.Obvious Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Additional Resources:

West

California - Water-Wise Food Gardening

Southeast

Florida - Conserving Water: The Vegetable Garden

Southwest

Texas - Water Gardening in Texas



      


             

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.