Lawn and Garden Prep

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How To Conserve Water When Gardening

A drought occurs in an area where you have a lack of rainfall over a prolonged period of time. There are a few things you can do around the house to save water and money on your water bill during a drought. First, fix those leaking faucets. Also, wash large loads in the washing machine and dishwasher and install a dual-flush toilet.

Conserving water is good for the environment and your wallet. Preparing and maintaining your lawn and garden with water conservation in mind will translate into saving water and lowering your water bills. Follow our tips below.

WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT

1
Plan to conserve water when designing your lawn

To conserve water while you’re planning your garden, here are a few tips:

• Xeriscape your lawn to eliminate or reduce the need for irrigation. Xeriscaping lessens the need for irrigation, and reduces the amount of time and money it takes to maintain your yard. Drought-tolerant plants are often used for this style of landscaping. Water your plants according to the instructions on your plant tag. Once the root system is established, you may be able to water your plants less frequently. Be sure to follow all other guidelines on your plant tag to properly care for your plants. It will tell you the sun, soil, pH level and watering requirements. When in doubt, keep your plants lightly watered and see how they respond.
• Using native plants is another approach to xeriscaping your lawn. Native plants are more likely to adjust to your area’s normal rainfall, soil and climate, and may require less watering. Also, if you understand how long the sun bathes your garden, you can determine the best spot to place your plants. Space your plants so that they don’t compete with each other for root space, water and nutrients.
• Reduce the size of your lawn by adding a deck, patio or walkway if your space allows. This will lessen the amount of plants you have to water and add ambiance to your outdoor space.

2
Conserve water when watering your plants

Here are a few tips to help properly care for your plants: 

• Don’t overwater your plants. This can lead to root rot and soil compaction, which robs the roots of air. Rather, water your plants deeply and less frequently to provide a healthy root system. Water your lawn, not the side of your house or driveway, and avoid watering sidewalks and patios.
• Water your plants early in the morning while the temperature is cooler. This will minimize evaporation on the surface and allow the water to soak into the soil gradually, lessening your need to re-water. Consider using a drip irrigation system to automate the process and deliver water to the plant’s roots.
• Use effective garden tools. A soaker hose or sprinkler wand is effective for watering plants. These tools apply moisture directly to the root zone of the plant, with less water being lost to evaporation.
• Aerate around the drip line of your plants to allow air and water to soak into the ground. Properly aerated soil allows the roots of plants to grow healthy and helps strengthen the plant.

3
Conserve water while maintaining your lawn

Here are a few tips to help maintain your lawn:

• Don’t over-fertilize your lawn. When you do this, you increase plant growth and create the need for additional watering. Also, don’t apply fertilizer during the onset of a drought. Fertilizer that builds up without rain or irrigation can burn plant roots and cause damage to the lawn.
• Break up your mulch. Although mulch holds in moisture and keeps the base of plants cool, too much of it can prevent water from soaking in. Typically, 2 inches of mulch is enough. Use a rake when applying it to allow water through. Springtime is an ideal time to put down mulch.
• Remove weeds from your lawn. Weeds compete with plants for moisture and nutrients in the soil. Remove weeds a few times a week and more frequently in the spring. This will make your lawn stronger.
• Cut your grass at its highest recommended level. Taller grass cools and shades the ground. It stays greener than shorter grass in a drought. Bluegrass can be cut 2 to 3 inches. Tall fescue can be cut to 3 inches and perennial ryegrass can be cut to 2 inches.