Water Saving Tips

Water-efficient gardening includes seven basic principles that are easy to employ while they increase the value of your home, plus save you time, water and money.

Efficient water use is especially important during the hot summer months when as much as 50 percent of home water use is for watering lawns and gardens.

You don’t have to have a brown lawn to be water-wise. In fact, a beautiful water-wise landscape can add to the value of your home while you save more and more. For more information, check out your local library or conservation district for books and videos on water-wise gardening, or call your local county extension agent.

Seven Basic Principles

Grouping Plants

Water-smart planning starts with grouping plants according to water, sun, and soil requirements and ends with reduced maintenance through the use of simple and continuous edges. Keeping a clean separation between turf and plantings will allow for easier adjustment of irrigation patterns. It will also minimize the time spent mowing and will reduce the potential for damage to plantings that have grown too close to the lawn.

Sensible Lawn Areas

If the lawn is installed, consider using a drought-, disease- or wear-tolerant variety. Place it where it can be watered and maintained efficiently. Avoid placing lawns on slopes or in areas that are unused or are hard to maintain.

Plant Selection

Use native and/or adapted plants that will enhance the site and minimize long-term water consumption while keeping weeds and pests to a minimum.

Appropriate Irrigation

Group plants into high, moderate, and low water-using zones. High-tech watering systems make watering easier, but not necessarily more efficient. If you install an automatic system, be sure to adjust for seasonal changes and consider using a rain or soil sensing shut-off switch.

Soil Preparation

Adding renewable forms of organic matter enhances the water-holding capacity and improves soil texture.

Use of Mulches

Use of organic (living and otherwise) and/or inert mulches reduce water evaporation, erosion, and weed growth while enhancing site aesthetics.

Appropriate Maintenance

All landscapes require regular maintenance. Pruning, efficient watering, and pest control will keep plants healthy and your water bill lower. Weed regularly since weeds compete with your grass for water and nutrients. Fertilize only the minimum amount needed. Extra fertilizer actually increases water consumption.


This educational blog is a series of informative articles from the Penn State Master Gardeners volunteers plus news concerning the group and their activities. For more information, click here.