Over-watering is wasteful, and it can harm plants.
- Target water to plants that show signs of moisture stress. Plants will turn a gray-green color or wilt when they need water.
- Water the root zone of the plant instead of the foliage. This saves water and reduces diseases.
- Water at night or in early morning to avoid losing water to evaporation.
- Water deeply. Light, frequent watering causes shallow rooting and increases the need for water.
- Use drip irrigation and micro-sprays when possible. They use 30 to 50 percent less water than sprinklers.
- In-ground system users should have a regular system audit performed by a professional who will inspect for leaks and other problems and recommend new water-saving equipment. Rain sensors, soil moisture sensors, evapotranspiration controllers and new efficient rotors and spray heads are examples of new technologies.
Plant the “right” plants in the “right” places.
- Select plants carefully. Read the plant tag; it tells you the amount of sunlight and water the plants needs as well as the recommended soil conditions.
- Plants that require partial shade do best on eastern exposures where they are shaded from the hot afternoon sun.
- Consider the slope and drainage patterns of the site. Plant moisture-loving plants at the base of slopes where they can take advantage of natural drainage.
- Group plants in the landscape according to their water need: high, medium or low. This will result in more efficient irrigation.
A little organic matter goes a long way.
- Organic matter, such as compost, improves the water- and nutrient-holding capacity of the soil, adds valuable micro-organisms that aid in nutrient uptake by plants, reduces soil erosion and filters and buffers potential pollutants.
- Apply 3 inches of organic matter to the soil surface and incorporate it into the soil 12 inches deep. One cubic yard of material will cover 100 square feet approximately 3 inches deep. When buying organic material, one cubic yard is equal to 27 cubic feet which is nine, 3-cubic-f00t bags or 14, 2-cubic-foot bags.
- Add organic matter uniformly across the planting area.
- Mulch holds moisture in the soil.
- Apply pine straw, shredded hardwood or bark mulch 3 inches deep: two bales of pine straw cover approximately 100 square feet; 14, 2-cubic-foot bags of mulch cover 100 square feet.
- Apply mulch under the entire canopy of the plant.
Harvest water from alternative sources and use it to irrigate plants.
- Collect water in rain barrels or cisterns.
- For each inch of rainfall, six gallons of water can be harvested per square foot of roof area.
- Air conditioner condensation and dehumidifiers are also sources of irrigation water.