Your New Water Saving Landscape Is Done – Here’s How To Maintain It

Raking a backyard Zen garden
Owner Jeff Moore rakes his water-efficient Zen garden. Photo courtesy of San Diego County Water Authority

Fourteenth in a series republished with permission from the San Diego County Water Authority website.

Whether you’ve installed a new water-efficient landscape or are just looking for tips on how to maintain your existing landscape, here are ways to maintain your landscape while saving water.

Plan ahead. Keep a copy of the plant legend, irrigation plan and schedule to facilitate the purchase of plants and spare parts. It will also help locate and troubleshoot pipes to make repairs or adjustments if needed in the future.

Monitor and minimize watering. When properly configured, your smart controller will automatically adjust watering times to respond to changing weather. To maximize water savings, program your controller to apply only the amount of water needed for each zone. A good rule of thumb is to water only when the top inch of soil is dry. If you see runoff before the end of the irrigation cycle, adjust the schedule more often for a shorter duration each time.

To schedule your irrigation correctly, you need to know your equipment type, plant water use, soil texture, and watering area. Use the watering calculator on to create a basic watering schedule for your property. Adjust as needed for optimal plant growth and water efficiency.

Water at the appropriate times. If possible, schedule your irrigation system to run early in the morning. It is best to avoid watering at night to prevent fungus and mold problems from nighttime watering. Avoid watering at midday to eliminate excessive evaporation.

Check irrigation equipment. You may not see the system working early in the morning. Be sure to manually activate the system seasonally and after extreme weather changes to detect potential issues. Check drip systems to make sure emitters are working and clean filters as needed. Over time, dripper locations may need to be moved as your plants grow. Adjust spray nozzles to avoid overspray and runoff.

Fertilization tips. Use organic fertilizer or compost. Compost can be made from yard scraps and some kitchen scraps to continually enrich your soil. For more information and do-it-yourself composting recipes, check out the Water Authority’s e-guide to a WaterSmart Lifestyle.

Cannabis control. Weed naturally as soon as possible. The use of herbicides can be costly and, if not applied correctly, can damage the environment. Designing and maintaining a healthy landscape can be the best defense against weeds. Pull out any weeds growing in your garden by hand every few weeks. Pull them out before they go to seed.

Manage pests. The key to pest and disease control is maintaining healthy soil and selecting plant species that are not prone to pest problems. Consider following integrated pest management practices. Use chemical control only as a last resort. Try spraying pests with a stream of water, releasing beneficial insects (ladybugs and lacewings), spraying insecticidal soap, or using compost tea. Consider replacing pest-prone plants. When using chemical control, always follow the manufacturer’s dosage, application, and safety information.

Other Water Saving Ideas

Maintain a two to three inch layer of mulch. Replace the mulch as needed.

Use a broom or blower to clean driveways and sidewalks instead of a hose.

Make a plant maintenance checklist. Keep a copy of your plant list and make a checklist of maintenance requirements for each plant.

Monitor your monthly costs and water consumption on an ongoing basis.

Rest easy knowing you’ve done your part to protect our natural resources and the environment.

The San Diego County Water Authority offers programs, resources and incentives to improve water use efficiency for residential, commercial and agricultural users. For more resources on water use efficiency, go to


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