A Guide to Waterwise Gardening
The City of Bremerton residents enjoy some of the highest quality water in the country and our water rates are among the lowest in Washington State. However, if our community is to continue to grow and prosper, we must practice conservation of our remarkable water resource.
We are fortunate enough to live in a location that does not require landscape irrigation if we plan properly. Our drought time is limited to the summer months and most plant mortality in our area is related to overwatering; i.e. root rot, "wet feet," and fertilizer leaching due to overwatering.
With this in mind, the City of Bremerton has developed a step-by-step approach to planning, designing, installing, and maintaining your own conservation gardens.
This method of landscaping conserves water and protects the environment. It also helps decrease peak demand (the time when the most water is used), promote change in our attitudes and behavior toward gardening, and increase environmental awareness.
Seven Fundamentals of Low-Water Use
The following "7 Fundamentals of Low-Water Use" should improve your chances of creating a successful landscape:
- Soil Improvement: Adding organic matter to the soil will help to retain water and provide needed plant nutrients.
- Appropriate Use of Turfgrass: Lawns are our largest water user. Turf requires twice as much water as established drought tolerant plants. Smaller, rounded plots of lawn on level areas are easiest to water efficiently.
- Efficient Irrigation: There are a variety of irrigation technologies to choose from: surface systems, subsurface drip systems, timed and untimed systems, and hand watering. Efficiency in an irrigation system is attained by keeping the system well maintained and applying water only as plants need it. Good soil preparation and proper plant selection can alleviate the need for irrigation altogether.
- Use of Mulches: Mulches reduce the amount of moisture that evaporates from bare ground, help insulate plant roots during cold periods, and deter weed growth.
- Selection of Low-Water Use Plants: Plants that thrive in the microclimate of the site should be selected, i.e. high and low temperatures, soil types, available sunlight, humidity and natural precipitation. Plants native to our region are "best choices".
- Planning and Design: Evaluate existing conditions and assess your needs. What are your conservation goals? How much time can you realistically devote to a garden?
- Appropriate Maintenance: Even drought resistant plants require additional watering until established (usually three to six months). Planting should be done semiannually, in fall and early spring, to take advantage of natural precipitation. Weeds require a great deal of water to compete with other plants. During the first growing season it is important to hand-weed to prevent damage to the soil. Correct pruning to remove dead and diseased growth and promote the plants natural shape may reduce the plant's water demands.