With autumn in the air, consider taking the following steps in your yard and garden to prepare for a more water-efficient winter, spring, and summer:
- Compost. Soil that is enhanced with compost holds moisture better and reduces runoff, which can help you save on irrigation next summer. Add a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost to the top of the soil and dig it into the top 6 to 12 inches of the planting bed. Or simply layer it on top of the bed, a technique called “topdressing,” and let the earthworms do the heavy lifting for you.
- Mulch. Mulches such as shredded bark spread evenly over the surface of the soil reduce the amount of moisture that soil loses through evaporation and plant transpiration. Mulching also helps keep down the weeds. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer on all open soil, but keep mulch away from the trunk or stem of plants.
- Adjust. Remember to readjust your irrigation system schedule to reflect the changing seasons and precipitation, or turn it off when it is no longer needed.
- Winterize. Having your pipes freeze and burst not only wastes water, but it can cause a lot of damage. Before the first frost, remember to unscrew hoses, drain outdoor spigots, and either turn off their water supply or use an insulating cover to protect them from freezing.
- Consider your plant palette during the cold winter months. When you start planning your garden for spring, try to incorporate locally adapted or native plants that are already accustomed to the soil and weather patterns in your area.