Add low-water-use plants. Group plants with similar water needs, so nothing gets over- or under-watered. For what works in your region, use the Sunset Western Garden Book and our plant list.
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Irrigate deeply and infrequently, then allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. Water early in the morning, when the air is calm and temperatures are cool. If you have sloping ground or clay soil, water more often but for less time to minimize runoff.
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Shrink the lawn
Across the West, lawns are the number-one consumer of residential water outdoors. Reducing their size, restricting them to spaces where you actually need them (like kids’ play areas), or eliminating them altogether are the most effective ways to reduce your own outdoor water use.
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Mulch, mulch, mulch
Organic mulches (ground bark, wood chips, compost) save water by cooling the soil, reducing evaporation, and encouraging healthy roots. They also help eliminate water-hungry weeds. Mulches break down quickly, so you’ll need to reapply them quite often; 2 to 3 inches is usually enough.