Your guide to a water-wise garden.

With an oppressive drought and sweeping new water restrictions, many of us are asking: What more can we do to save water? 

Store 'Greywater'

A greywater system can be as simple as catching the flow of a warming shower into a bucket rather than letting it wash down the drain. 

Add Mulch

Don’t underestimate the importance of mulch. While it adds obvious cosmetic appeal, it is also an essential component in an effective watering system. Mulch is one of the best ways to retain soil moisture and to protect roots from extreme temperatures. A note of caution, while mulch’s moisture-retaining qualities are a benefit, it can cause plants and trees to rot if placed too closely to the tree trunks, or the crown or stems of plants.

Here are some additional tips for optimum irrigation:

1. Observe plants well. Get to know their tendencies, such as droopy, lackluster foliage when lacking moisture.

2. Know your soil. Is it too wet or dry between waterings? Examine regularly. Also, add organic matter if needed, particularly to newly-planted areas to improve texture and moisture retention.

Rain Barrel

3. Water deeply and avoid runoff. Simply put, irrigate long enough to penetrate the root zone, let the soil partially dry, and then water again. If water puddles around the plant, stop and allow it to be absorbed, then continue watering. You don’t want to apply water faster than it can be absorbed into the soil.

4. Adjust irrigation methods to accommodate the seasons. Generally, you should water in the morning to reduce evaporation. Water more frequently during hot weather, and less in cooler months or on calm days.

If your watering methods are automatic, ensure you adjust timers to increase watering for windy days and decrease watering as the temperature dips or during rainy spells.  

Now that you’re armed with watering methods to see you through the season, consider adding a few plants ideal for low-water gardens, such as herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme, or less thirsty plants and shrubs.

For help getting started, browse the Sunset Western Garden Collection™ and search for water wise plants. Also, visit www.saveourh2o.org for more information and tips for conserving water while maintaining a beautiful landscape.  

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