I would bet quite a few let it rip since we have been having drier weather in many places around the country. Is it green grass you want?
It took me some time to actually find grass without weeds in my lawn for the images above. I don’t water the grass and depend on the weeds keeping my lawn rather green.
I just saw a NASA photo of Lake Mead and how much it has receded rather quickly in recent years. Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States, and is fed mostly by the Colorado River and its tributaries.
“According to the U.S. National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation, the amount of water flowing out of and evaporating from Lake Mead in recent years has consistently exceeded the amount of water flowing in. To date, Lake Mead has been able to meet the growing demands downstream. “ (source)
Does this cause you concern? Well if you live in areas using this water, I bet it does, (Government relief on the way). So I started thinking if there is benefit to watering gardens in these times of less rainfall.
Luckily, the rain gods have been vacationing in NY this year and being more generous than in previous years, but watering is still necessary to keep blooming plants hydrated.
Looking out into dry and brown meadows the last number of years and seeing large forest trees in decline, I realized our insect populations are being severely hit from all sides, not the least of which is plant blooms not hydrated to provide nectar and produce pollen. The plant may be blooming, but not necessarily providing sufficient sustenance if it is too dry. I realized since natural spaces are not providing adequately due to the decrease in rainfall, home gardens are of more importance than ever for bees and butterflies.
I keep reading people were not seeing as many bees or butterflies. Could it be that parched garden plants are partially to blame?
This year I have been selectively and frugally hand-watering plants in bloom. What I found was a great increase in insect visitation to the plants fully hydrated. We have had some rain that has relieved some of the problems of recent droughts, but it is still not sufficient for garden needs.
So, How to Water?
I do not believe in turning on the sprinklers being the answer unless entire gardens are in jeopardy, and do think places facing drought need water restrictions or rationing. I also believe in planting more drought tolerant plants, but have seen some areas getting too much rain also killing off these type of plantings. The weather has just been too volatile and unpredictable to plan for long-range landscaping. What many have faced in areas with adequate rainfall as the norm, is now dryer than average growing seasons. So how do we cope, yet still be water conscious and conserve?
A few options are available.
- Rain barrels are great to have, but don’t usually help if rains don’t come for months. They aren’t even allowed in places requiring the downspout to be connected to storm sewers.
- Retention ponds are an asset on large properties.
- Using gray water is an answer to watering problems. There is even restrictions on gray water use on food crops because of safety issues. Then there are concerns over laundry detergents and the effects of the elements into which the biodegradable detergents decompose.
- Only watering those plants needed by wildlife or food for humans. Include those seasonally wildlife frequent while in bloom.
- Hand watering. I hand water by utilizing bath and cooking water.
- Use drought tolerant plants. Plants such as asters are drought tolerant and can go longer before showing signs of stress or not attracting bees for lack of nectar. Monarda is very long blooming if kept moist.
It really is a conundrum in many respects. Do you be concerned or just accept what nature throws your way? I make a conscious decision each time I carry the bucket of water to the garden on which plants will receive it.
Today, the little birds were out in the garden feeding on Monarda. The feeders were down temporarily while the trumpet vine and Monarda are blooming, but now they are back.
Keeping blooms hydrated for the hummingbirds is just as important.
In the case of dragonflies being seen less, the insects on which they feed are in diminished supply apparently. What comes around goes around…
It is getting harder to just depend on nature providing the rain, even for drought tolerant plants. This year as most, I do have a good selection of pollinators. They say plant it and they will come, but I add water it too. Anyone saying native plants don’t require your care is wrong, just take a look at drying and bloom-free meadows that have no additional care.
Think of all the water going down drains and how with a little work in carting it outside, plants will be happier that you thought to reuse and conserve.
The companion post to this article on Nature and Wildlife Pics, pretty hummingbirds in the garden, plus native gardening. Have a look at happy hummers.