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The Fivefold Path to Water Wisdom

The Fivefold Path to Water Wisdom

In an ecologically based garden design, water is not an externally caused event — it is designed into the plan, naturally present, naturally abundant. In the ecological garden, ample water, not drought, is the “default condition.”

Five Water-Conserving Methods and Their Benefits
Together these five techniques conserve moisture far more effectively and more certainly than any single technique, and the benefits extend far beyond water conservation.

Methods and Benefits
1. High organic matter content.
Holds moisture, adds fertility, stores nutrients, boosts soil life, and fluffs soil.

2. Deep mulching.
Slows evaporation, cools soil, adds fertility, boosts soil life, and smothers weeds.

3. Water-conserving plants.
Needs less water and survives drought.

4. Dense plantings.
Shades soil and smothers weeds.

5. Soil contouring.
Catches water, directs water where needed, helps plants and soil life survive both wet and dry periods, builds humus, and adds visual interest.

Read more: Nature, Lawns & Gardens

Adapted from Gaia's Garden, A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway. Copyright (c) 2001 by Toby Hemenway.Reprinted by permission of Chelsea Green Publishing Company.
Adapted from Gaia's Garden, A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, by Toby Hemenway

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

Go to the Source

Gaia's Garden, A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

Imagine a garden filled with edible flowers, bursting with fruit and berries, carpeted with scented herbs and tangy salda greens, all blended in an eye-catching palette of color and texture. This is not a dream. This is your own now


+ add your own
7:36PM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

Check... this is becoming more and more important, thanks!

7:44AM PDT on Sep 23, 2012

good to know

7:50PM PDT on Sep 22, 2012


8:52PM PDT on Sep 13, 2012

Good info, thanks

5:48PM PDT on Sep 12, 2012

It was hot a summer with an extended period of no rain. Dense planting did not too well, even the shaded areas, contoured areas and the rest went almost bone dry.Lost a few perennials, the garden looked very unattractive. But- September was pretty wet, energized the garden, albeit a bit late.
Thank you.

4:21PM PST on Jan 21, 2012

5 nice simple rules to remember in the garden! I had forgotten about the benefits of contouring until reading this.There are two places in my garden where this is exactly what I need to prevent water run-off, and mulch sliding down to the bottom of the garden bed. Thank you!

12:37AM PDT on May 31, 2011

Thanks for the article.

1:21PM PDT on May 28, 2011


11:55AM PDT on May 28, 2011


6:33PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

These tips are right on the money, thanks.

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