Waterwise Gardening

MGNV - Best Management Practices logoLearn tips and easy-to-implement practices for having a healthy green garden that you don’t have to water every day. We will discuss 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.

Online class offered by Extension Master Gardeners.

Speaker: xtension 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

00:00 Introduction 01:56.0 Outline of Presentation 02:43.3 Identifying Water Challenges 13:32.8 Strategies to Reduce Watering Requirements 20:10.6 Questions 30:08.8 Watering Best Practices 42:46.7 Questions 55:28.0 Rain Barrels 1:02:12.4 Designing a Waterwise Garden

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 01:57 Outline of Presentation
  • 02:45 Identifying Water Challenges
  • 13:29 Strategies to Reduce Watering Requirements
  • 30:08 Watering Best Practices
  • 55:28 Rain Barrels
  • 1:02:08 Designing a Waterwise Garden

VCE Sustainable Landscaping – Water Conservation Resources

Compiled by VCE Master Gardeners (Arlington & City of Alexandria)

Addendum: Answers to Chat Questions

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 Wisconsin report  indicates that potassium chloride as an alternative to sodium for water softening does not have the same environmental impacts.  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.