35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

rain barrel

  1. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering. Be sure only to water plants when the ground is dry.

  2. Use sprinklers that toss big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller drops of water and mist can drift onto non-target areas or evaporate before they hit the ground.

  3. Water lawns during the early morning when temperatures and wind speed are the lowest. This reduces evaporation and waste. Watering in the evening can leave leaves wet all night, promoting disease problems. Better yet. DON’T WATER THE LAWN AT ALL!!! It doesn’t die, it goes dormant.

  4. Hand-water with a hose where possible. Homeowners who water with a handheld hose can use one-third less water outdoors than those who use automatic sprinklers.

  5. Use mulch to retain moisture in the soil. Mulch also helps reduce soil compaction from raindrops and helps control weeds that compete with landscape plants for water.

  6. Purchase a rain barrel and install below your gutter downspout and you’ll capture a little more than half a gallon of water for every square foot of roof during a one-inch rainfall—that means a 90-square-foot roof would completely fill a 55-gallon barrel! You can use that bounty to water your ornamental garden. Don’t use on your veggies, too many contaminants!!

  7. Plant smart. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain both your plants and irrigation system. Plant native and/or drought-tolerant grasses, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Once established, they do not need water as frequently and usually will survive a dry period without watering. It will save time, money and water.

  8. Position sprinklers so they’re not watering driveways and walkways.

  9. Adjust your lawnmower to cut grass to a height of 3 inches or more. Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.

  10. Start a compost pile or scrape food into the trash instead of running your garbage disposal*, which requires a lot of water to work properly. Use the compost to improve the quality and water holding capacity of your soil. *Save yourself from having the plumber out also!!

  11. Use a timer on hose-end sprinklers to avoid over-watering. 15-20 minutes is generally enough time.

  12. When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.

  13. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by simply walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.

  14. While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.

  15. Aerate your lawn. Punch holes in your lawn about six inches apart so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.

  16. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as cleaning or watering a plant or garden. For example, collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants; or when cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.

  17. Install sprinklers that are the most water-efficient for each use. Micro, drip irrigation and soaker hoses are examples of water-efficient methods of irrigation.

  18. Outfit your hose with a shut-off nozzle that can be adjusted so water flows only as needed. When finished, turn the water off at the faucet instead of at the nozzle to avoid leaks.

  19. Use hose washers on water hoses and attachments to eliminate leaks.

  20. Do not leave sprinklers or hoses unattended. Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons of water or more in only a few hours, so don’t leave the sprinkler running all day. Use a kitchen timer to remind yourself to turn it off.

  21. Verify that your home is leak free. Homes can have hidden water leaks that may be noticeable indoors, but outside can go undetected. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak.

  22. Avoid purchasing recreational water toys that require a constant stream of water.

  23. Go with splashes of color instead of mass plantings of annuals. Yes, they’re beautiful, but annuals (such as petunias and impatiens) typically require more water than most perennials.

  24. Rethink your lawn layout. If you live in a dry climate, you’ll need a lot of sprinkler activity to maintain a huge grassy swath. Consider replacing it with decorative gravel, which also reduces runoff.

  25. Collect shower/bath “warm-up” water in a bucket for use in watering plants

  26. Use water from dehumidifiers to water indoor and outdoor plants. You can also collect condensation water from air conditioning units to use for watering plants.

  27. Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.

  28. Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.

  29. If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption. A heavy layer of thatch can be hydrophobic, so de-thatching might help.

  30. Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape. Check your timing devices regularly too to be sure they operate properly.

  31. Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance. I recommend 1′ of water per week.

  32. Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.

  33. Remember to weed your lawn and garden regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, light, and water.

  34. Wash your car and pets on the lawn, and you’ll water your lawn at the same time.

  35. Use porous materials for walkways and patios to keep water in your yard and prevent wasteful runoff.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plants

27 thoughts on “35 Water Saving Methods in the Garden

  1. Fantastic! You cover every possible angle on saving water in the garden. I’m printing this off to keep with my gardening reference manuals. Thanks very much.


  2. I hate wasting water like when running to get up to hot. But who is going to carry all that water in a bucket from the shower or sink? 😦
    Another pet peevy thingy. The water companies really don’t provide any incentive to save. There is usually a rate per/whatever. I don’t get any savings for using less.
    Granny Grunt here. 🙂
    I am relaying a few of your ideas to the Master.


    • Yes, some of these suggestions are a bit crazy, however it won’t be long before water will cost more a gallon than gas! From what I understand, many water bills are really the cost of the waste going out (to treat the water) not the water you are bringing into your home. Another odd thing.
      I’m lucky, depending on who you talk to. I’ve got well water. I don’t pay for my water, however I need to pay for the electricity to power my pump to bring it up.


  3. Great article but, if I may take the liberty of adding to it: Forget those perfectly green lawns and those perfectly formed plants. Let the grass go dormant as necessary; let the plants adjust to your own garden’s conditions in their own way …………. and then simply sit back and enjoy seeing nature in her true glory. Nature is perfect in her own way, which is quite different to what magazines would have us believe. Our garden is home to a 75lb dog, squirrels, racoons, skunks, chipmunks, and a wide range of birds ………. and shows signs of all those visitors. It is nature at her natural best and (bonus) maintenance is not a big task!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your wonderful additions to the post =-) You are completely correct. Just like airbrushed super-models.. You don’t think we landscapers embellish our ads? GIMP is a wonderful tool!
      I am the laziest landscaper ever. I design my gardens to be very low on the maintenance end. I also don’t design plants that don’t want to grow in the yard with a whole lotta help. After the first year of watering help, a plant better pull up its big boy pants and grow on its own.
      Thanks for your help Ray errr. I mean Colin! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

          • Considering the damage he could do, he is very good. He actually works around most of the shrub beds but a lawn (in the traditional sense) has little chance. Every “take-off” propels lumps of grass into the air. Every sharp turn relocates lumps of grass. Then factor in a lot of peeing and you can see the lawn’s challenge. However, he loves the garden as do the various other animals and birds that visit. ……….. and who could want more than that? I just have to sit down with a beer and enjoy the watching the activities. 🙂


  4. I love these – I never thought about the fish tank water, but based on how awesome my mom’s plants look after getting a good dose of post-fishing fish guts, I imagine that would be fantastic water. Now, I just need to get a new fish…


  5. Pingback: Monday Memories | Midwestern Plants

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