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How to help your garden survive a drought

(BPT) - - For many American gardeners, 2012 has not been a kind year. Most of the Midwest is dealing with one of the worst droughts on record. And while...
(BPT) - - For many American gardeners, 2012 has not been a kind year. Most of the Midwest is dealing with one of the worst droughts on record. And while the Midwest is bearing the brunt of the drought this year, other parts of the country have also been hit hard in recent years, and climate change may be making matters worse. Since a drought can strike any year, anywhere, it makes sense to come up with a sustainable plan for helping your garden survive through the driest summers. Whether you're in the middle of a drought-stricken area or are simply looking for ways to upgrade your garden to handle a lack of moisture in coming seasons, now is a great time to embark on some improvements that can help your garden use water more efficiently and effectively. Watering effectively When it comes to watering your garden, how you water is just as important as how frequently you water, especially during a drought. Think of it as providing the proper serving size of water for your plants. Over-saturating your garden can lead to soil and important nutrients running off your garden, along with wasting precious water. The most efficient way to irrigate is to apply lower volumes of water at a slower rate to allow the plant to absorb it properly. Timing's important too. Watering early in the morning is best because water will evaporate faster in the midday heat. If conditions are extremely hot and dry, it can also be beneficial to give your plants a little water in the late afternoon to relieve their stress. Micro-spray and drip irrigation can help you water more accurately and effectively. Drip irrigation allows you to apply water directly to the root zone of your plants, which is where they need it most. Water isn't wasted on areas where nothing is growing, which both saves water and reduces erosion. The great thing about drip irrigation systems such as those offered by Mister Landscaper (misterlandscaper.com) is you don't need to bring them in for the winter, making mid- to late-season installation practical. The American-made Mister Landscaper systems can also be placed on a timer, so you don't have to worry about getting up at dawn or rushing home at night after a hot and dry day to water at the optimal time. Keeping water on your property When water is scarce, you want to make sure that when the rain comes - or when you have the sprinklers on - that your garden is able to use as much of it as possible. Here are a few tips for making the most out of the water that falls on your property: * Attach a rain barrel to your gutter system so you can save and use the water that runs off your house. Some irrigation systems, such as those offered by Mister Landscaper, can be connected to rain barrels so you can really use that water efficiently. * Put back into your soil what you take from it. Adding compost or other organic matter periodically can help amend dry soil to retain more water. * Adding mulch around plants once they've sprouted can also help you conserve water. The benefit is two-fold as a layer of mulch can prevent weeds from sprouting up and stealing water from your plants and it can also keep your soil cooler to slow evaporation. Weathering a drought is less than ideal for any home gardener. But if you are able to water more effectively and adopt a few gardening practices that will keep your soil from drying out rapidly, you can keep your garden going strong even when the rain is hard to come by.
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