As we wade into the second half of the summer, it is important to use water responsibly. Why? There is not an unlimited source of it. Plus, municipal water costs you money.

A rain barrel is my #1 defence against summer drought. The water in it is warm -- and all plants love that, especially summer-flowering tender plants like petunias and impatiens.

As rain falls from the sky is becomes charged with 30 to 40% oxygen, which is good for everything that grows. Ever wonder why your Mom used to say, “Gee, the garden never looks better than after a summer rain.” Now you know.

Soaker hoses

Delivering water directly to the root zone of your garden plants is another effective water-saving technique. There are two ‘soaker’ hoses that work well, one made of recycled rubber that oozes water out of its pores. It acts like a ‘bleeding’ hose and it delivers water slowly to the root zone, avoiding the substantial loss of water applied above the ground.

The other soaker hose is made of a synthetic material that ‘squirts’ water in needle sized streams. It works well above the ground and covers a wider swath than the recycled rubber material. It also handles high pressure water effectively.

The Magic of mulch

Insulating the top layer of soil in your perennial, rose and veggie garden with a 5 to 6 cm layer of finely ground-up cedar or pine bark mulch works wonders. It is all natural, reduces watering by up to 70%, keeps soil cool and as a side bonus, reduces weeding by up to 90% the first year. I don’t know why more people don’t use this inexpensive strategy to maintain a great looking garden while saving time, money and work.

Don’t overwater

You can train most plants to expect less water this time of year by allowing the foliage to droop a little bit between waterings. If you water more frequently than that, you train your perennial, including trees and shrubs, to expect it on a regular basis.