Let's get right to the point. If you're not irrigating your lawn, flower beds, and container plants using the most targeted, time-efficient methods possible, you're wasting water. Here's our advice for conserving water, time, and money on your yard and garden.

Lawn
1. Limit the expanse of yard devoted to perpetually thirsty turf grass.

2. Cut back on fertilizer, mow high, and leave mulched clippings on the lawn to shade the soil and reduce evaporation. When you set up the sprinklers, make sure water is being absorbed; if you see runoff or puddles, you're adding water too fast.

3. Here's a simple test to determine when your lawn needs water: Walk on the grass. If the blades spring back, hold off on watering. If you see your footprints, switch on the sprinklers—unless rain is in the forecast.

Flower Beds and Borders
4. Water just the roots of your perennials, annuals, and shrubs—don't shower the leaves. This cuts the risk of fungal disease and reduces evaporation.

5. Choose drought-tolerant plants adapted to your site's climate, soil type, and sun exposure.

Containers
6. Plants in pots are especially vulnerable to drying out in hot weather because their roots are confined to a small area and can't extend deeper in search of moisture.

Trees
7. Plant at least one tree in your yard—for shade, for beauty, and for posterity.

8. To water transplants efficiently, shovel soil and mulch into a donut-shaped berm as wide as the tree branches. Fill the berm with water, using a hose or buckets; then let it percolate into the soil slowly.

Gear
9. Keep your drip irrigation systems running efficiently by checking for leaks, cracked pipes, or plugged emitters. And watch for spray that drifts away as mist, a sign that water pressure is too high. Bigger droplets won't get carried away in the wind.

10. Inexpensive soaker hoses ooze water through thousands of tiny pores all along the length of ruber tubing. Snaked through shrubbery and hooked up to a timer set for early morning watering, they can cut water use by up to 70 percent over conventional sprinklers.

11. Drip systems consist of plastic tubing with tiny, targeted emitters that drip water at a set rate. These systems target just the plants you are trying to encourage, not the spaces in between, so you wind up using less water and nurturing fewer weeds.
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