With the majority of the western United States under severe drought conditions, the reality of keeping things like grass, shrubs, and gardens alive is becoming a very real issue. Water restrictions prohibit homeowners from using water on their lawns throughout most of the day, leaving many people hopeless and anxious about the future of their landscaping. 

8 Tips for Surviving the Drought While Under Water Restrictions 

Growing anything in drought-stricken areas is becoming difficult. In California, where approximately 80 percent of the country’s fruits and vegetables are harvested, this poses a huge problem to farmers. Chevron, one of the area’s largest oil producers, has even resorted to saving wastewater and selling it to local farmers. 

While your situation may not be as dire as that of local farmers who depend on their crops for income, it’s still difficult to let your landscaping go by the wayside. Here are a few tips for navigating water restrictions:

Recognize symptoms. It’s critical that you’re able to recognize the symptoms of water deficit early. This will allow you to prevent irreversible damage in many instances. Some common signs include wilting or drooping leaves, new stem sections that are closer together than normal, curled or yellow leaves, grayish foliage, and grass that retains footprints for several minutes.

Water at night. If you’re permitted to water landscaping in your area, be sure to do so at night. By watering between 9pm and 6am, you can reduce evaporation and increase water retention in most plants.

Remove low priority plants. Sometimes you have to make judgment calls regarding which plants stay and which must go. Identifying which plants are high and low priorities will help. If you find that you have low priority plants in close proximity to high priority ones, removing them will prevent them from competing for the little soil moisture that’s present.

Mulch is your friend. According to a report from one of California’s top research centers, “Bare soil exposed to heat, wind, and compaction loses water through evaporation and is less able to absorb irrigation or rainfall.” The report references a study that says straw mulch leads to a 35 percent reduction in evaporation. Adding mulch to flower beds and planted areas will help your plants maximize available moisture.

Catch shower water. While the average shower is somewhere around eight minutes long, did you know that roughly 20 percent of that time is wasted waiting for the water to heat up? That means every shower you take wastes around four gallons of water. By collecting that water in a bucket, you can reuse it for watering plants and landscaping. 

Raise mower blade. Taller grass creates more shade, which reduces water evaporation in the soil underneath your lawn. It also protects roots from excessive heat. By mowing your grass at a higher blade setting, your lawn will require less water to thrive.

Don’t worry about shrubs. Most established shrubs are able to survive long periods of time in dry soil. If you have to choose what to water and what to ignore, you’re better off watering fruit tress, vegetables, and flowers.

Lay off the fertilizer. While fertilizer is designed to help your landscaping thrive, it’s a detriment when soil conditions are dry. Fertilize speeds up growth, and thereby, increases water demand. It’s best to only fertilize when you can ensure there’s adequate water for subsequent growth.

Protect Your Landscaping During Drought

It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it is possible to protect and save most plants during prolonged periods of drought. If your area is subjected to water restrictions, make sure you follow the rules, while simultaneously utilizing these eight tips.