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Tips on Watering Your Garden During the Drought Season

Looking back, I’ve found that my dad was far ahead of his time when it came to gardening. The traditional landscape of the 60′s with its expansive green lawn, token street tree and typical foundation plants were no where to be found at our southern Californian home. He instead created islands and borders filled with lush plants, colorful flowers and textural trees and shrubs. And thanks to his conservation techniques and strategy tips, our landscape always looked lush even during times of drought.

Using the least amount of water to produce the most amount of color is easier than you might think and makes plain good gardening sense. It all boils down to how and when you water so that you avoid water runoff and evaporation.

The high-spraying oscillating sprinklers were quite common in the 60′s and remain the go-to lawn irrigation for many even today. But once this downpour of H20 reaches the soil, much of the water can be lost to evaporation or windy weather. A low-ground watering sprinkler–such as the pop-up sprinklers that my dad used–or a sprinkler head with a heavier, lateral spray will help maximize moisture and minimize water waste.

Drip Irrigation

Outside of the lawn, I mostly rely on drip irrigation and soaker hoses as they minimize moisture loss by distributing lower volumes of water over longer periods of time. Since water slowly seeps into the soil, there is no runoff and evaporation is kept to a minimum.

I like drip irrigation best for spot watering around permanent plantings like shrubs and perennials, and usually weave slightly buried soaker hoses through annual and perennial beds and borders. Both also work well in the annual veggie garden. We mostly utilize low-volume sprayers or bubblers for watering our orchards, but they are also very effective for groundcovers. Check your local Kmart or shop online at for an irrigation system that best suits your needs.

Watering with a hose is a simple, easy and highly efficient way to water, especially when you attach a hose nozzle that gives you options for different spray patterns such as soaker spray or mist spray. Yet it can be a very time consuming way to water beds, borders or any large space on a consistent basis. Maximize moisture by using a hose to water in new plantings, newly seeded beds, dry spots, hanging baskets and containers. My favorite water hose by far is the Craftsman 50 foot rubber garden hose at Kmart–it’s flexible, extremely durable, long-lasting and ideal for use in all conditions.

Best Time to Water Garden

When and how you water is equally important. For starters, watering deeply and infrequently (typically about 1 inch of water per week) promotes a deeper and more extensive root system whether you’re watering a lawn, trees, shrubs, or colorful plants. This will result in healthier plants that can weather through the dry spells so much better than plants that are stressed. And watering in the cool of the morning or evening will result in more water seeping into the soil and less being lost through evaporation.

Here’s a few other “water conservation” tips that my dad taught me:

  • Lawns that are mowed high and mowed often develop a deeper and more substantial root system, making them better equipped to survive periods of drought.
  • Apply a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost, shredded leaves or other organic mulch to beds, borders, trees and shrubs. This will help conserve water in the soil so you can water less often.
  • Digging in a 3- to 6-inch layer of compost, aged manure or other organic matter into your planting area will help increase the water-holding capacity of any soil.

My dad’s last tip for keeping a landscape lush during times of drought? Why, that would be growing water-thrifty plants, of course. But then, that’s a subject for a future blog! - Kris Wetherbee


Read Kris’ Recent Blogs & Guides

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Kmart Garden Tool(s)

 ° Lawn Garden Outdoor Tools Supplies

kris wetherbee




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  1. We always water our lawn in the early morning-Our city actually has placed a request that residents water at that time. Now that I read the explanation it makes perfect sense as to why that is the most efficient time to water.

  2. Great blog and great tips! I will be headed out to my local Kmart to buy soaker hoses. Sounds like it will also save me time as I've been hand watering with a hose. And yes, please do post a blog on water-thrifty plants!!

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