These tips will make your backyard use less water
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, the Sunset Plant Finder, and our plant list.
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.
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.
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.
You can often tell if your system is not working efficiently by watching it run. Or look for signs: Brown spots mean your lawn isn’t getting enough water; wet spots and runoff signal too much water. Make use of your water department’s local lawn-watering guidelines.