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Plant water-efficient, well-adapted, and/or native shrubs, trees, and grasses. Choose plants that are drought and heat-tolerant and can survive the minimum winter temperatures in your area. In odd-shaped areas, use drought-tolerant ground cover instead of grass. Many cities provide lists of water-efficient plants.

Don’t abuse the benefits of an automatic sprinkler system by over-watering. Set it to provide thorough but infrequent watering. Check sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are working properly. Install rain shut-off devices and adjust sprinklers to eliminate coverage on the pavement. For plants that need more water, use a hose or watering can to give them additional water. Prevent evaporation of water.

Water lawns early in the morning. Never water on windy days. Use drip irrigation systems for bedded plants, trees, or shrubs, and use low-angle sprinklers for lawns. Cover pools and spas. This can save the equivalent of your pool volume each year! Harvest the rain. Buy a rain barrel or a cistern and collect the water from your gutters to water your plants. Use your water efficiently. Don’t waste water by cleaning patios or sidewalks with it; use a broom.

Taller grass holds moisture better. Don’t cut more than one-third of its length at one time. Don’t scalp lawns when mowing during hot weather. Leave lawn clippings on the lawn instead of bagging them. Use lots of mulch around your shrubs and trees. It will retain moisture, reduce run-off, moderate soil temperatures, and help with weed control.

Don’t over-fertilize! Get a soil kit to determine what nutrients your soil needs. If you apply fertilizer only in the spring and fall, your grass will be healthy, use less water, and require less mowing. Use a car wash that recycles water. If you are washing your car at home, use a bucket of soapy water and a hose nozzle that shuts off the water while you scrub.

Resource: twdb.

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