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Best Ways to Save Water in Your Garden

These ideas will help you find water-wise techniques for growing a beautiful landscape.

Use landscape fabric

Weeds zap valuable soil moisture from your plants. One of the best chemical-free ways to control weeds is with a layer of landscape fabric under your mulch. It's air- and water-permeable and easy to plant into--just use scissors or pruners to cut an X, pull back the fabric, and plant.

Sprinkler smarts

Adjust sprinklers (left) so they water the lawn and not your driveway, the street or sidewalks. Check your system periodically to see if the sprinklers are still aimed at the right areas and if any spray heads need to be repaired.

Gauge your sprinklers

Your sprinklers are on a timer, but have you checked the water output? Place a rain gauge where it can collect water from your sprinkler. Then adjust the timer to give your lawn or plants just what they need. Most cool-season grasses need about 1 to 1.5 inches of water a week to maintain color and growth. One penetrating, weekly soaking (1 to 1.5 hours) encourages plant roots to grow down in search of water, which makes them healthier and more likely to find water without additional watering.

If you don't have a rain gauge, you can also set out cans to collect water; simply mark the inches on them or dip in a ruler to measure the water.

Drip irrigation of landscaping beds (left)--slowly applying water directly to plants' root zone--doesn't waste a drop through evaporation and prevents molds that can develop with droplets on plant leaves. Purchase easy-to-install sets at any garden or home center.

Store it for later

A plant can take up only so much water at a time. Soil polymers (left) retain moisture and release it slowly back to plant roots. Add soil polymers when planting beds or containers.

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