Waterwise quick fix

Gardening experts offer tips and tricks for a lush, eco-friendly garden in our waterwise gardeners' roundtable.

Credit: Nan Sterman

Carol Pope:

If there were one quick fix that every gardener should do this spring, what would it be?

Nan Sterman:
See my mantra above.

Mary Ann Newcomer:
I offer three places to start:

1. Mulch
2. If you have an irrigation system, check it carefully and make certain it is in top order. You may be able to turn down the water on well-established beds.
3. Replace at least a few plants.

More from the Waterwise Gardeners Roundtable:

Lush lawn, waterwise lawn?

Reform a guzzler garden

Recycling garden waste

Waterwise tips for new gardeners

Eco-friendly lawns

A healthy-looking lawn

Herbicides and pesticides

Growing food on less water

Eco-friendly ponds

Carol Pope:
Wow, this is all inspiring. Nan, I love your “Mulch is the one silver bullet in the garden” line. In fact, you have all referenced mulching again and again as key to water conservation in the garden. The glorious thing too about mulch is that not only does it boost the soil and conserve water, it’s also an excellent “destination” for garbage debris.

As I lamented years ago when I was planting a number of gardens:

I piled grass clippings and raked-up leaves in one corner of our yard while struggling to fight back weeds overtaking the garden in another. Finally the light dawned and I began to redistribute the piles of waste onto the beds as mulch.

Eventually, I learned, too, that mulching lessened my tasks considerably. For example, assuming I caught weeds before they went to seed, I would simply pull them out of one bed and toss them directly onto another, then top-dress that bed with its messy layer of ripped-up weeds with a smooth coat of (organic) lawn clippings or chopped fall leaves to clean up the look (once the weeds had sufficiently dried out and were in no danger of taking root). No more lugging the weeds or packing them into bags, and my gardens eventually became a lot less weedy—thanks to the mulch—not to mention, healthier and requiring less watering.

Now, when I see bags of green waste bagged and placed curbside for recycling pickup, it’s all I can do to restrain myself from pulling over and stashing them into my car. Garden “debris” is really a very valuable garden resource, isn’t it?

So my next question would be:

What is your best tip for how a gardener can recycle their own garden waste back into their garden?