Tips for a Water Wise Garden

1. Water infrequently, deeply and thoroughly. This will encourage deeper rooting and greater tolerance to dry spells.

2. Use a mulch on the soil surface. Mulching cuts down on water loss due to evaporation. A two-inch layer of mulch or compost is recommended. Apply mulches to shrubs, trees, annuals, vegetable gardens and even containers.

3. Shelter container plants. Move containers to shaded areas to keep them from drying quickly in hot, windy areas.

4. Use "Water Wise" plants. Plants rated "water wise" need less water to survive. Find out which plants (once well-established) can grow with less water.

5. Install a drip or other type of water conserving irrigation system. Slow drip and deep root water systems can save up to 60% of all water used in garden care.

6. Use correct watering techniques. Water early in the day especially as the weather warms to reduce evaporation loss. Water less often for longer times to encourage deep root growth.

7. Aerate the soil. Aerate lawns to insure maximum water penetration.

8. Don't be a gutter flooder. Turn off lawn sprinklers before water is wasted as runoff into gutters and streets. Be sure your irrigation system is in proper working condition.

9. Properly condition and fertilize your soil. Water does not easily penetrate clay soils and water passes too quickly beyond the root zone of plants in sandy soil. Adding organic matter to clay and sandy soils will increase the penetrability of clay soils and the water holding capacity of sandy soils. Fertilize in moderation using a complete, balanced fertilizer.

10. Cut lawns to proper height. Gradually let lawns reach a height of 3-4 inches. Longer blades of grass mean going 3 to 4 days longer between waterings.

11. Discourage water competition from weeds. Keep weeds pulled and/or use herbicides to control weed growth or mulch to keep them from growing.

12. Plant in groups. Group plants together having similar water requirements.

Being "Water Wise" not only conserves water but actually helps you achieve a healthier garden. And it can be colorful too!

(based on a public service message from the California Association of Nurserymen)