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.

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


Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago

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

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

good to know

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago


Marianne B.
Marianne B5 years ago

Good info, thanks

Bonnie M.
Bonnie M5 years ago

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.

Jennifer E.
Jennifer E6 years ago

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!

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

John S.
Past Member 6 years ago


Robert O.
Robert O6 years ago


Sandy G.
Sandy G.7 years ago

These tips are right on the money, thanks.