Residential Design

7 Tips for Saving Water in Your Landscape

7 Tips Header
ASLA 2012 Professional Awards, Residential Design Category, Quaker Smith Point Residence, H. Keith Wagner Partnership / image: H. Keith Wagner Partnership

Want to create a beautiful landscape for your home that also saves water? Check out these smart tips that will reduce landscape water use but still leave your property looking beautiful and alive.

1. Start early. Plan ahead so that all new plantings take place in the spring. It keeps you out of the summer heat. Plus, plants require much less water to get situated in the spring than warmer months.

ASLA 2014 Honor Award, Residential Category, City House in a Garden, McKay Landscape Architects / image: Linda Oyama Bryan

2. Go native.
When deciding what to install in your yard, consider native and drought-resistant plants. They typically require less maintenance and little watering once established (sometimes none at all!)

ASLA 2009 Honor Award, Residential Category, Vienna Way Residence, Marmol Radziner & Associates / image: Jack Coyier

3. Add compost and mulch.
Use compost when planting and cover the area with mulch afterwards. Compost helps keep the water by the plant’s roots and mulch prevents evaporation. Make sure to leave some space around the base of each plant and resist creating mulch mounds around plants and trees.

ASLA 2014 Award of Excellence, Residential Category, Woodland Rain Gardens, Jeffrey Carbo Landscape Architects / image: Ralph Lee Anderson

4. Reduce your lawn. The average American household uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens. Consider replacing some of that grass with an attractive groundcover that is drought-resistant, covers a large area, and requires zero mowing.

ASLA 2008 Honor Award, Residential Category, Malibu Beach House, Pamela Burton & Company / image: Bruce Botnick

5. Let it super soak. Up a third of all water from sprinklers can evaporate during the heat of the day. Instead, give your plants fewer, heavy soakings. If you must use sprinklers, only use them in the morning.

Rainwater Capture
ASLA 2014 Honor Award, Residential Category, City House in a Garden, McKay Landscape Architects / image: Linda Oyama Bryan

6. Reuse greywater or capture rainwater. Reusing grey water or capturing rainwater offers a free source for landscape irrigation. These systems can be easily installed and even incorporated into irrigation systems.

ASLA 2014 Honor Award, Research Category, A New Norris House and Landscape, University of Tennessee College of Architecture and Design / image: Robert Batey Photography

7. Set up a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation systems water plants right at the root and are an efficient alternative to sprinkler systems. They use 20 to 50 percent less water than conventional pop-up sprinkler systems and can save up to 30,000 gallons per year. Be sure to get a timer for maximum effectiveness.

Drip Irrigation


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