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10 Water Saving Tips

Research shows that California’s residents use up to 50% more water than they need to maintain healthy, beautiful gardens. Proper watering would not only conserve water but actually improve the overall health of California gardens and landscapes. With drought conditions and restrictions in place it’s not only our responsibility to conserve water in our practices but also educate California residents on how they too can reduce outdoor watering and still have the garden they love.  

Reducing outdoor water consumption is easy and doesn’t have to include overhauling the landscape.

1. Water early in the morning
Set automatic sprinklers to run in the early morning and finish before 8am. This will reduce evaporation and will lessen the likelihood of water waste from interference from winds. You’ll also find that plant disease and water damage are reduced.

2. Mulch
Placing a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch on the soil surface around plants can save hundreds of gallons of water each year. Mulch prevents water evaporation and also stops weeds from growing.

 3. Repair and adjust sprinklers
Observe sprinklers as they run. Adjust them as necessary to reduce overspray on sidewalks, roads, and patios etc. Repair damaged sprinklers immediately. Check pipes for leaks. Quick repairs and adjustments can save as much as 500 gallons each year.

4. Water deeper, but less often
Most gardens on automatic sprinkling systems in California are overwatered. If yours goes on every day, that’s most certainly the case. Change your system to water every other day or every third day. At the same time, increase the times by only 50-75%. You’ll have less evaporation and water will be further down where roots can continue to access the water. 

5. Change watering times with the seasons
Adjust automatic systems at least three times a year. The highest frequency will be July-October. Lowest will be November-March, with April-June somewhere in between. During periods of rain, turn automatic systems off.

6. Use trigger sprayers when hand-watering
Every hose should be equipped with a trigger sprayer so water is not wasted as you water containers and the rest of your garden. Trigger sprayers are especially useful when washing cars. Also, use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks.

7. Minimize water loss in pots
Use water-retentive potting soils such as Danish Potting Soil in all container gardens. Add soil polymers to your potting soil and planting time. Polymers store water for plants’ use as the soil dries.

8. Add lots of compost to your soil
Adding store-bought or homemade compost to planting beds and pots will decrease the amount water needed. Clay soils that are amended with organic matter will accept and retain water better. Sandy soils improved with compost will have improved water absorption and retention.

9. Use organic fertilizers
Organic fertilizers slowly release nutrients into the soil at a natural rate that matches plants’ needs. With a slow, even feeding there is no overabundance of soft green growth that chemical fertilizers produce. Thus, your plants need less water when fed organically. 

10. Install a smart sprinkler controller
The latest technology can help reduce your water use (and your water bill) dramatically. These wireless “smart controllers” activate your automatic sprinklers via computer based on current weather data and information about the specifics of your garden. You simply replace your automatic timer with a “smart controller”. You will also enter easy-to-determine information about your plants and soil. You can save 40 gallons or more each day using this type of controller.