The rainy season is here, so collect water

HAVING been woken by heavy rain in the middle of the night for the third night in a row, it made me think: ‘How many readers have ensured that as much of the rain as possible has been saved for future use by the plants in their gardens?’

In looking at the issues involved I will be highlighting some topics covered in more detail in my book ‘How to use less water in your garden – A practical guide to waterwise gardening.’

Absorbent soil

This first issue is obvious but rarely worked at year-on-year. The challenge is to develop soil that will retain rain water, and irrigated water, around and under the roots of plants without becoming waterlogged.

It is important to ensure root balls can spread sideways and downwards in loosened soil that creates a growing space so the plant grows to maturity without becoming stunted by physical constraints in hard rock-like soil and limited moisture and nutrients.

The easiest and cheapest soil additives are your home produced composts and well-rotted animal manures.

Mulching to prevent re-evaporation

Do all you can to prevent evaporation from the surface of the soil by covering with non-absorbent materials such as stone chippings, ground volcanic ash, almond shells etc.

Ground cover and shade

Mulching with materials can be enhanced by allowing evergreen and deciduous plants to spread and hug the ground.

Storing rain water

Install guttering and water barrels or a large storage tank.

Preventing losses to surrounding properties

Surround your property with at least a single building block wall to prevent rain water running into adjacent properties. Moving it to where needed Design the network and slopes of paths and terraces so rainwater is directed to where it is most required, including to underground storage tanks.

© Dick Handscombe
October 2015.

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