Gardening with Limited Water
Most of the water used at home is used outdoors, so even small steps to save water can yield big savings. Little things like fixing a broken sprinkler or making sure that you are running them in the cool of the early morning rather than the afternoon can save lots of water. You can conserve even more by shrinking the amount of lawn you have, planting water-efficient plants, installing a drip irrigation system or adding a weather-based smart controller.
Saving water is not hard. We simply need to be smart about using what we have. Low water use landscapes can be beautiful while using minimal amounts of water. We will continue to add resources, so check back often.
For more information, visit the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Yolo County
10 Tips for Saving Water in the Home Landscape
- Prioritize your plants Determine which plants are most susceptible to water stress. High on the
list should be plants that are valuable in terms of replacement cost, prominence in the landscape and
- High Priority – trees and shrubs (especially those that are young and planted in an exposed site). Large, mature shade trees and shrubs can be left alone unless the drought is severe and the trees begin to wilt, or the root systems have been recently disturbed.
- Medium to high priority – perennials, fruit and nut trees, small fruits and vegetables; turf that is less than one year old.
- Low priority – annual flowers and herbs, ornamental grasses, established turf. These are usually less expensive and more easily replaced.
2. Irrigate early Less water loss occurs from evaporation and wind drift in the early morning hours because temperatures are cooler and there is less wind early in the day.
3. Know your soil The type of soil in your landscape largely determines how often you should water. Clay soils hold more water than sandier ones they can go longer between waterings than sandy soils.
4. Mulch Apply 2 to 4 inches of mulch around plants to keep weeds down, conserve soil moisture and moderate soil temperatures. Mulching minimizes water evaporation from the soil surface, reducing the need to irrigate. Keep mulch 3 to 4 inches away from the trunk or stem of the plant to prevent rot.
5. Control weeds Weeds can out-compete cultivated garden plants for water and nutrients.
6. Add organic matter When possible, add organic matter (compost) to your soil. This will improve the water-holding capacity during dry weather and promote good drainage during wet weather.
7. Don’t fertilize Or if you do, apply a low-nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilizing stimulates growth which increases water needs.
8. Avoid runoff and puddling by cycling irrigations. Let sprinklers run for 10 minutes then shut them off for 10 minutes, allowing the water to absorb into the ground.
9. Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and steps. Using a hose to clean can waste hundreds of gallons of water.
10. Select water-efficient plants. When buying new plants, use some of the resources below to choose low water users adapted to our climate. Keep in mind that all plants require regular watering to become established, including California natives.
Browse the PDF with a full accompanying list of resources.
Sign up for a UCCE workshop: Sustainable Gardening During a Drought Oct 7 2021 3-4pm online.