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9 Water Conservation Garden Tips

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

These simple tips will help you conserve water while keeping your garden in tip-top shape.

Russian sage and sedum

When rain is lacking and drought is threatening to knock out the garden, take action. Here are some easy ways to conserve soil moisture and reduce your water bill.

compost around plants

1) Compost. Add compost to your garden regularly. With really poor soil, it pays to work the compost into the soil before planting. After that, you can simply top-dress once or twice a year with compost or other mulch (see photo), spreading 1 to 2 inches at a time. Compost not only adds beneficial nutrients and microbes to the soil, it helps retain moisture.

Learn to compost

leaves around plants

2) Shredded Leaves. Shredded leaves make excellent mulch. And they’re free! Spread them in fall to insulate the soil and prevent frost heaving of perennials. The shreds will eventually break down and feed the soil, just like the compost.

shredded bark around plant

3) Mulch. Pine chips, wood chips, and shredded bark all look great in the garden. They conserve moisture, discourage weeds, and keep the soil from baking and cracking in the sun. Use them in most situations (other than around cacti and thick-leaved succulents that prefer rapid-draining sand or pebbles). Shredded bark is better than chips on slopes because it doesn’t wash out as easily. Replenish annually.

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hydroponic garden system

4) Hydroponic Gardening.  Also known as hydrogardening, this is an indoor growing system where plant roots are supported by soil-less blends such as peat or coco coir. Nutrients are added to the water to promote plant growth.  Although water is the growing medium, water use is considerably less that plants grown in soil.

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terra-cotta container and saucer

5) Pots and Saucers. Speaking of containers, when you can’t water every day, use a saucer to collect excess water. This will eventually be drawn up into the container soil, keeping it from drying out so quickly. You can also group containers so they help shade each other.

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green rain barrel

6) Rain Barrels. Save on water bills by collecting rainwater from downspouts and storing it in your choice of Lowe’s rain barrels. You’ll be surprised how quickly the barrels fill up after a rainstorm. Check to make sure there are no ordinances against collecting rainwater in your community.

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How to choose and use a rain barrel

black soaker hose

7) Soaker Hoses. Overhead watering is fine for lawns, but a soaker hose is more efficient for garden beds. Wind it through the garden and peg the hose in place. You can even disguise it with mulch if desired. Soaker hoses cut down on evaporation -- and the water stays off foliage so there is less chance of foliar disease.

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drip irrigation system in pot

8) Drip Irrigation. Want to water your pots more efficiently? Use a drip irrigation system to put water where it’s needed: in the root zone. You can even hook it up to a timer to automatically start and stop irrigation.

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Learn more about drip irrigation

gray-green succulent plant

9) The right plants. The best water-conservation strategies start and end with plant selection. Choose plants that fit your conditions and group them together according to watering needs. Look for drought-tolerant plants. Many have gray or silver foliage; others have thick, fleshy leaves and are called succulents. These plants naturally need less water.

Xeriscape for a water-conserving landscape