Give plants the right amount of water at the right time of day!

There isn’t really a “one-size-fits-all” approach to watering landscaping materials, so pay attention to the requirements of each specific variety in order to conserve water while keeping everything green and healthy. You’ll also make Mother Nature smile by incorporating native plants that perform particularly well in your growing region, many of which require minimal water. Trees: Hydrate roots deeply, applying as little as a quarter-of-an-inch of water per hour up to three times a month during the heat of the summer or during drought conditions (making sure that it soaks in rather than runs off). New trees typically require frequent watering, whereas mature trees with well-established root systems are able to thrive with fewer applications. Ensure that moisture levels remain constant by circling the base of your trees with a mound of soil and mulch. Vegetables: With just 1 inch of water required every week, the best way to keep your garden hydrated while encouraging the development of a healthy root system is through the use of a drip irrigation system. Just be sure to bring on the liquid very early in the morning (rather than late in the evening) to discourage diseases from developing. Flowers: During their growing season from spring to autumn, assorted types of flowering botanicals require roughly 1 inch of water per week (applied in the early morning hours at the base of their stems), but during the heat of the summer, they will need twice as much.

Use mulch!

Lay it on thick, baby! (The mulch, that is.) Here’s why it works: When you’re generous with the mulch, you’re effectively preventing some of the sunlight from penetrating through, which in this case ensures that the soil temperature around your plants will drop. With reduced heat, moisture levels will be maintained more effectively. The added bonus of mulching your heart out is that your plants will benefit from added nutrients and natural weed control. Some varieties to consider: mulch made from recycled Christmas trees, nutshells like pecans/hazelnuts, rocks, straw or even layers of corrugated cardboard and/or newspaper (also known as “sheet mulching”).

Add homegrown compost!

What is compost? Simply put, plant-based materials such as yard and kitchen waste are thoroughly chopped up and, with the help of water, air and carbon-/nitrogen-rich ingredients, allowed to decompose fully. The final nutrient-laden mixture makes landscaping materials as well as gardens thrive especially well, and if you’re trying to maintain an organic, eco-friendly yard, this is one resource that you really shouldn’t do without. Here’s how to build a compost bin using a variety of different methods and materials, but there’s no need to spend beaucoup bucks — you can always use recycled materials to create your containment system or simply just opt to heap the organic matter in the corner of your yard. These quick tips should make the process relatively painless and if you want instant gratification, you might be happy to learn that you can actually make your own “black gold” in a mere 14 days!

Make a DIY drip irrigation system using recycled materials

Hydrating trees, flowers and vegetable gardens slowly but surely with a drip irrigation system distributes water directly to root systems, encouraging heartier plant development. It also conserves precious water since there is no waste (inadvertently watered sidewalks and fences, for example), and reduces the likelihood of moisture evaporation during the hot summer months. If you have a relatively small area that requires hydration, consider using the frozen water recycled PET bottle method detailed here, bearing in mind that you can also recycle gallon-sized wine jugs or milk containers for the very same purpose without the frozen aspect. To cover a larger territory, a bucket drip irrigation system might be just the ticket, but for those who seek a far more attractive solution, burying unglazed clay pots is pretty intriguing — and they can always be snagged for free via Craigslist or Freecycle!

Make the most of recycled water sources

Harvested rainwater collected in a barrel isn’t the only recycled water source that can stealthily quench the thirst of the trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables surrounding your home. Much of the water that we regard as waste (from the shower, bathtub and even washing machine) can actually be reused safely on decorative landscaping materials as long as the plants are not going to yield edible food that you plan on consuming. Crop-based gardens will, however, appreciate the cooled water that you recycle from any vegetable preparation (such as heating up vegetables on the stovetop or in the microwave) since it is typically vitamin and mineral rich. You can also certainly recycle water that you rinse conventionally grown produce with, but be sure to reserve it for non-edible landscaping only due to the high pesticide content.

Older landscaping is naturally wiser (about water conservation)

Youthful plants demonstrate their lust for life with the uncanny ability to slurp-slurp-slurp day in and day out until the sun finally sets, and who can blame them? It’s all about survival of the fittest. Greenery that has been around the block a few times (with all of the scars and age rings to prove it) is, however, exceedingly conservative about just how much liquid is really necessary to get sufficiently buzzed. Older, wiser landscaping materials have been there, done that. Frankly, they’re sick and tired of all the H2O hangovers. Bear this in mind the next time you hover over a 25-year-old sycamore with a chainsaw.