The idea of having a garden sounds great to people — stick some plants in the ground, and at the end of the summer you'll be rewarded with gorgeous blooms or a bounty of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. But having a successful garden means much more work than that. It also means constant care to keep plants happy and healthy. And even keeping houseplants alive can take some time.
One of the most important aspects of gardening is making sure plants receive adequate water. Many of the plant's functions rely on water so hydration is essential, especially in hot, dry weather. These eight tips will help to make watering the garden and potted plants seem like less of a chore.
1. Use a water or wine bottle as a self-watering system
Create a self-watering system from a clean, plastic water bottle. With the lid on the bottle, use a hammer and nail to drive a few holes through the top of the lid. Remove the cap, fill the bottle with water, screw the lid back on tight and invert the bottle quickly, driving it into the soil at a slight angle toward the plant's roots. The water will slowly seep out of the holes.
2. Line pots with coffee filters
It's no secret that lining planting containers with coffee filters will help keep potting soil from spilling out the drainage holes in the bottom. By doing so, people also help to retain water in their pots as well. Coffee filters are incredibly absorbent and will soak up extra water as it drains out of the pot. This helps to keep soil moist between waterings.
3. Put saucers under pots
One of the most simple ways to keep watering plants from becoming a chore is to simply collect the excess water. Most planting containers have drainage holes to keep roots from becoming waterlogged. Collect this excess water by putting saucers under the bottoms of the pots. The plants will gradually reabsorb the water from the saucer when the soil gets dry, lending a helping hand if you forget to give them a much-needed drink.
4. Add mulch around plants
Moisture is easily lost from the soil surface through evaporation. Covering the soil with a thick layer of mulch will help to decrease evaporation, plus the mulch itself will help by retaining extra moisture. Choose commercial bark chips, pine needles, grass clippings or even straw as suitable mulch.
5. Crumple up newspapers
Newspapers make an effective alternative to mulch and can help keep the extra paper waste from making its way to already crowded landfills. Crumple up old newspapers and cover the topsoil with a solid layer of material. The newspapers will absorb and retain water, helping to keep the soil moist.
6. Add egg cartons to the soil
Cardboard egg cartons can increase the water holding capacity of soil when added to it. Either plant seedlings in egg carton starter cups, or tear up the empty containers, mixing the pieces into the topsoil. The material will absorb and hold onto moisture, delivering it to the roots as needed.
7. Bury a plastic bottle
Poke holes in the bottom and sides of a plastic water or soda bottle using a nail or thick sewing needle. Bury the bottle in a hole slightly larger than the container, next to the plant you want to water. Make sure the neck of the bottle is above the ground and fill in the soil back around the container. Remove the lid and fill with water, capping tightly to keep soil and debris out.
8. Fabric plant waterer
If you're going to be gone a couple of days and want to keep potted plants watered, then make a quick self-watering system using cotton fabric and a vessel to hold water. Braid three strips of cotton fabric together, placing one end in a vessel of water and the other end in the pot. The water will wick through the cotton to the soil.