A Guide to Conserving Water in a Permaculture Garden

Pound in Woods
Pound in Woods

Conserving water is always essential in a garden, and especially so in a climate such as the one experienced in Texas. Whether you believe in climate change or not it is prudent to take measures to use water more wisely and more sparingly. This guide to conserving water in a permaculture garden will help you to do this in your own backyard.

Permaculture emphasizes the importance of managing water successfully, as well as reducing the amount of water we require to grow our food. For gardener’s converse water, it is essential to understand how water is stored in a garden.

During rainfall, the water will flow through the landscape in predictable ways. It will be stored in the soil and be taken up into trees and plants. Permaculture teaches us practical ways to ensure that the water cycle of our planet continues to function as it should, and ways to manage the flow of water on our sites to make use of this natural resource to grow our food.

A rain barrel set up to catch rain
A rain barrel set up to catch rain

Harvesting Rainwater in a Permaculture Garden

Water will naturally flow downhill. In sloping sites, creating a pond or basin in a dip on the lowest part of the site is one way to gather and store rainwater for later use. We can also collect rainwater from the built environment by attaching butts or barrels to the downspouts on our homes.

We can also slow the rate at which water escapes from our gardens by creating earthworks such as on-contour swales (or ditches). These swales are depressions filled with organic materials which catch and store water. By planting along swale lines, we can make the most of all the rain that falls on our land.

Conserving Water in a Permaculture Garden

Catching and storing rainwater in our gardens is only part of the picture. We can also take measures to reduce the amount of water that we require to grow our food.

  • Drought-Tolerant Planting

One of the things we can do to conserve water is chosen the right plants for the right places. When choosing plants for your garden, always consider how much water they will require. Consider drought-tolerant plants native to your area if you live in a low-rainfall area. Salvia, phlox, and verbena are three wildlife-friendly examples of drought-tolerant plants native to Texas.

  • Shade Creation

In addition to considering planting drought-tolerant plants, it is also a great idea to consider planting trees and shrubs for shade. Shading the soil will slow the rate of evaporation and reduce water loss during the summer months. Great drought tolerant shade trees include the Chinkapin Oak, the smaller Lacey Oak, and deciduous holly.

  • Mulching & Ground Cover

You can also reduce water evaporation from the soil in your garden by taking care to cover the soil with mulches of organic matter or ground cover plants.

  • Low-Water Use Irrigation Methods

Of course, water will still be required by your plants. Choosing low-water-use irrigation methods can help you to direct the water to exactly where it is needed, without using more than you need to. Low water use irrigation methods include wicking beds and clay pot irrigation.

These are just some of how you can catch, store and save water in a permaculture garden.

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