Waterwise Gardening Tips 

Plan Your Site Efficiently:

  1. By grouping plants with similar moisture and light requirements close together, you can water plants, as they need it, rather than the whole garden.
  2. Locate plants requiring the greatest amounts of water in areas that receive run-off from slopes or make use of rainwater by redirecting your downspout onto your garden.
  3. Drain the overflow from your rain barrel towards thirstier plants and you'll have a steady supply of chlorine-free water for the garden.
  4. Consider using hardscape materials such as gravel, flagstones, interlocking bricks, or wood chips, which encourage natural drainage to help cleanse and recharge the aquifer.
  5. Wooden decks and flagstone patios may be appropriate alternatives to lawns in some instances, while low groundcovers can replace lawns that are mainly seen but not used.
  6. Avoid large expanses of asphalt and concrete as they prevent rain from soaking into the ground and reflect heat.

Choose the Right Plants:

Plants native to this area are a great choice! Indigenous plants are plant species that grew in this area prior to European Settlement and have adapted to local climate and site conditions. Once established, they require no irrigation or fertilizer, and are resistant to most pests and disease. Drought-tolerant species often have deep root systems, as well as fleshy, waxy or hairy leaves that help them withstand grueling heat, limited water and sudden changes in temperature.

Make Every Drop Count:

In order to conserve moisture, moderate soil temperature and control weed growth, apply mulch 2 - 4 inches deep over the surface of the garden. Types of mulch can include bark chips, wood chips, straw, leaves, crushed rock or pea gravel. To further improve the moisture retention of your soil, consider adding peat moss and compost. Depending on the particular species selected, soil amendments may not be necessary, as some plants actually prefer soil that is not too rich.

Avoid Invasive Species:

Get to know the plants in your garden. Be aware that sometimes species that are hardy and tolerant of a wide variety of conditions including drought and heat, can also be overly aggressive, crowding out other plants and taking over entire landscapes and natural habitats. Many of these "invasive" plants originated on other continents, and arrived here by accident. Other species were introduced as ornamental garden plants and are still commercially available.

Some common garden "invasives" to watch out for (particularly if you live close to a natural area) include:

  1. Aegopodium podagraria - Goutweed
  2. Convallaria majalis - Lily of the Valley
  3. Lythrum salicaria - Purple Loosestrife
  4. Phalaris arundinacea - Reed Canary Grass
  5. Vinca minor - Periwinkle
  6. Origanum vulgare - Wild Marjoram
  7. Lunaria annua - Silver Dollar
  8. Lathyrus latifolius - Perennial Sweet Pea
  9. Hesperis matronalis - Dame's Rocket
  10. Campanula rapunculoides - Creeping Bell Flower

For more information on other invasive plants, shrubs and trees, click to visit The Canadian Botanical Conservation Network website for more information.

More Tips:

  • In the summer months, up to 50 percent of household water is applied to lawns and gardens.
  • Drought-tolerant species still require water to get them established just as any other plant.
  • A low pressure, soaker-hose can save water, by directing water to the root system, rather than sprinkling leaves.
  • If you must use a sprinkler, remember to avoid ones that throw water high into the air.
  • The most efficient sprinklers put out big drops, close to the ground.
  • Rainwater collected in a rainbarrels may be used anytime regardless of bylaw restricted watering dates & times and plants prefer it.
  • Consider implementing the plan slowly to spread the cost over several years.
  • Remember, a low water use, perennial landscape will save you money in the long run with reduced water, fertilizer, plants and maintenance costs.
  • Grass that is cut to a minimum of 7.5 cm (3 inches) above the ground helps protect roots from the sun and retain moisture in the soil.