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Drought – Waterwise Gardening Solutions

6 min read | Dec 13, 2012 | Resources 

It may seem like a daunting task, one that is near impossible, to keep your plants alive during a drought. Although, with some helpful hints and know how from the experts, it isn’t as challenging as one might think. The professionals at Fairview Greenhouses and Garden Center have come up with some useful information to keep your plants looking lush and green, even when water restrictions are tight. We hope you find this information useful.

Watering Tips

The tips below are great to help you get the most out of your water by eliminating excess runoff and evaporation.

• Create a water ring around the root ball of the plant. You can do so by creating a “doughnut” around the rootball. The rootball should be about two inches above ground level, then gradually taper the top layer of soil down and create a well-like effect near the outmost edge of the ring. The outermost edge should be raised slightly higher than the well, this is to catch any water that might not saturate immediately, thus preventing excess runoff. Once you have your well built, fill the water ring (well) to the top to allow the rootball to be saturated. This way you are watering your plant and not the nearby grass!

– Use a Gator Bag or milk jug with holes in the bottom at the base of large shrubs and trees. This prevents evaporation and promotes deep watering thus allowing the roots to grow.

• Water early in the morning when the temperatures are cooler and the sun isn’t as intense. Thus, more water will penetrate your plants instead of evaporating into the air.

• Use a drip irrigation system instead of overhead irrigation on shrubs.

• Organic matter, such as peat moss, incorporated into the soil can help your soil retain moisture.

• A 2” – 3” mulch layer around the plant will help keep your soil moist. Although it is important that the mulch does not touch the trunk of the plant, as this can lead to rot.

• When hand watering, make sure to place your water source near the base of the plant (at the root ball) instead of above the plant. When you water above the plant, the foliage gets wet but the roots are deprived. When you water at the rootball, you are watering the part of the plant that is needed to sustain life and promote growth.



We carry various products here at Fairview Greenhouses andGardenCenterthat will help keep your plants looking great without using much water. Below are a list of some of the items we carry:

• Soil Moist: This is good to use in containers. They are small pellets that you add to your soil and expand when watered, thus holding water in your containers longer.

• Tree Gator: This is a ring that you use at the base of trees and shrubs that slowly releases water, allowing the water to fully penetrate the rootball. This is a great product because it uses much less water than hand watering, with the same results, if not better results!

• Rain Barrels: Rain barrels are becoming more popular than ever and we have several styles to choose from. We also carry a line of rain barrels that can be hooked together to allow for more water storage. Collect the water mother nature gives us and use it on your plants, instead of using our drinking water.

• Plant Nanny: This is a terra cotta piece that you place a water bottle or wine bottle (depending on the size you choose) upside down in and place in the soil near your plant. Your plant is slowly watered this way.

• Decorative Hand Blown Glass Waterer: Similar to the Plant Nanny, but is a lovely piece of hand blown glass that you fill with water and place in the soil.

• Mulch/Pine Needles: These are great to put around the base of your plant (do not allow to touch the trunk) to help retain moisture.

• Biotone: An organic way to establish root growth. Biotone is composed of various bacteria that are good in promoting faster root growth, thus establishing the plant quicker. Once the roots are established, waterings may be reduced.

• Daddy Pete’s Soil Conditioner: Soil conditioners help to break up the soil particles and aerates your soil. A well aerated lawn will help plants roots to establish quicker.

• Soaker Hose: This hose, full of tiny holes (yes, they are supposed to be there!), is great to roll out into your flower bed and slow drip your plants. By applying low water pressure, you are using less water and the water that is applied to the plants actually soaks to the roots. Check our drought section ( to see if these are okay to use in your area.


Container Gardening as an Alternative

If you have concerns about watering your flower beds this summer, why not add a burst of color with container gardening? This way you can still enjoy the things you would enjoy with your flower bed — color, fragrant smells, as well as attracting birds and butterflies to your landscape— but on a much smaller scale, thus using less water.

Containers can be used in many places that you might normally have a flower bed: by the mailbox, by your front entryway, decks, or by the pool. In addition, they can hang from the porch, trees and deck railings. The possibilities with container gardening are endless.

If you choose to opt for container gardening this year, below are a few water saving tips that will work well with your containers.

• Use a glazed ceramic or plastic containers instead of terra cotta. Terra cotta tends to dry out much quicker than other options.

• The smaller the flower pot is, the quicker it will dry out. So try to plant larger containers to get the most out of your water usage.

• Soil Moist added to a container will help retain moisture, thus reducing the frequency of waterings.

• Line hanging baskets with Supa Moss instead of Coco Liner to help retain water. If you really like the look of Coco Liner, you can line it with a plastic grocery bag that is dotted with holes (make sure it has holes!). This way you achieve the look you desire and more water is retained in the soil.

• Leave a two-inch space between the top of the soil and the rim of your container. This way you are watering the plant and it isn’t flowing down the sides of your flower pot!

• Water the soil, not the plant.

• Place a layer of hardwood mulch on top of the soil to retain moisture.

• When putting your containers together, consider using more drought-tolerant plants.

Planting Times

Planting trees and shrubs during certain times of the year can also equate to less watering! If you plant a tree in the middle of the summer, it is obviously going to need to be watered more frequently to establish the roots than a tree that is planted in the fall. To the right is a graph that will show you the various planting seasons as well as the growth that is
associated with those periods.