Learn tips and easy-to-implement practices for having a healthy green garden that you don’t have to water every day. This class discusses which plants can best survive our long, hot summers, how to group plants to take advantage of existing water sources, and use of water gardens, rain barrels, and best landscaping practices.
Speaker: Extension Master Gardener Joan McIntyre, who leads the Virginia Cooperative Extension-MGNV Neighborhood Champions program that supports Extension Master Gardeners as they offer gardening expertise to their neighborhoods.
Zoom session, recorded July 31, 2020
Video of Presentation
VCE Sustainable Landscaping – Water Conservation Resources
- Compiled by VCE Master Gardeners (Arlington & City of Alexandria)
Addendum: Answers to Chat Questions
by Joan McIntyre, presenter of “Waterwise Gardening”
Two questions were ask for which the presenter did not have an immediate response.
Is water softener harmful to plants?
According to the Arizona Cooperative Extension, sodium which is commonly used to remove magnesium and calcium from hard water, may not harm outside plants directly but can change the soil structure reducing its ability to hold water. Gypsum can be added to counter the effects (see reference). The impact on soil for Virginia may not be as high as in arid Arizona where watering requirements would be much higher. University of Wyoming Extension recommends that softened water, which can be high in sodium or potassium, not be used to water indoor or outdoor plants You should avoid using water treated with a water softener for indoor plants – rain water or distilled water are better options.
How do I clean algae from my large rain barrel?
Rain barrels that are dark or in the shade can prevent algae growth, which requires sunlight. Chlorine (bleach) can be added to a rain barrel to eliminate algae–for details University of Washington Botanical Gardens offers this advice. The water should sit for a day or two to dissipate the chlorine.
Here is how our Master Gardeners clean a large cistern at one of our demonstrations Gardens:
The best way is to drain 3/4 or more of cistern of water then use a hose on highest setting of pressure and hose it down on the inside. Our cistern at the library has an open area on top, so strong hose pressure works from above. As the ‘gunk’ is removed from interior walls it will drain out the bottom valve which should be wide open.
Make sure no attachments are connected or it will clog up the works.
Note- this gunk is good for plants so use buckets to capture the waste and compost or use as a top dressing.
The cistern will not get completely clean as that would require chemicals. A no no in my book.
A power washer works best but I’ve used standard high pressure nozzles.