Install a Drip System
Drip irrigation systems can help avoid wasting water in the yard and garden. With low-pressure emission, the water drips in slowly at root level, dispersed only where needed. This practice prevents water loss through runoff or evaporation—and saves you money in the process. As a bonus, drip systems also discourage the growth of weeds and fungal diseases.
Related: 9 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds
One of the most cost-efficient ways to hydrate the lawn is to reuse water from elsewhere around the home. Known as gray water, this relatively clean wastewater can be be piped from your kitchen sink, dishwasher, washing machine, or tub (but not the toilet) out to your drip irrigation system to benefit the rest of your property.
Put in Rainwater Tanks
While you're at it, capitalize on Mother Nature's own irrigation system. Rainwater harvesting is an innovative way to collect and store lots of rainwater for later use. With your gutters funneling the bounty of a stormy afternoon into rainwater tanks, you can keep your garden hydrated without relying the town's water supply. No tank? No problem. You can just as easily use wading pools or other larger vessels to catch the extra water.
Related: Rain Barrels That Perform with Style
Hang Self-Watering Baskets
Make rationing water easier on yourself by investing in self-watering hanging baskets. These super low-maintenance planters maintain a reservoir of water to quench the plant's thirst only when the soil gets dry. All you need to do is refill the reservoir when instructed by the water level indicator. You'll never again have to worry about overwatering!
Prep Your Ceramic Planters
If you'd rather stick to the basics than adopt a new smart planter, simply prepping your planter can do a great deal to help minimize water loss. Porous ceramic planters, for example, need to be treated to prevent them from absorbing water meant to hydrate the plant. Water-absorbent crystals also help reduce water loss in potted plants.
Spread Some Mulch
While mulching is not mandatory in the garden, the benefits make this practice a no-brainer. Mulch not only provides a layer of insulation that helps cut down on the need for watering, it also works as a weed blocker. Start by putting down a thick layer of wet newspaper over the weeds and any new soil that needs covering, then top the paper with at least an inch of mulch. Eventually, the paper breaks down and builds up the soil.
Plant Drought-Resistant Shrubs and Lawns
Conserve water in your garden by filling it with plants that need less of it to begin with, like drought-resistant shrubs and lawns. Scout your options by visiting a neighborhood nursery that specializes in local plants, as these are generally better adapted and often less needy than imports.
Related: 10 Low-Maintenance Mums
Whether you're a lawn care novice or a master gardener, everyone can use a little help around the yard. Subscribe to The Dirt newsletter for tips, recommendations, and problem-solving tools that can help you tame your great outdoors.