Reduce water loss in plants for water conservation and a thriving garden. When possible, choose plants that are adapted to dry conditions. Summer heat and dry climates are difficult on water-loving plants. When growing fruits and vegetables and establishing young trees, shrubs and other ornamentals, it's often necessary to take extra measures for water conservation and make sure plants receive a constant supply of the water they need for optimum growth.
Use compost to enrich soil nutrients and improve plant water retention. Compost is decomposed organic matter that looks like rich potting soil. While you can purchase compost from garden centers, it's easy to make your own from lawn clippings, vegetable table scraps, leaves, egg shells, coffee grounds and more. Designate an area for compost materials and layer them in a heap. Add manure, soil or both and mix with a rake periodically to help the decomposition process. Earthworms and microorganisms digest the organic matter and turn the waste into enriched, soil-like compost. Use this to amend soil and improve its nutrient levels and water-holding capacity. Avoid using meat scraps in your compost pile because it may attract unwanted rodents.
Use mulch to cover the soil around plants to prevent water from evaporating out of the soil. Mulch helps to keep water available where plants need it most--their root system. Mulch is usually organic, but may also be plastic or stones. Organic mulch is beneficial because it breaks down and adds extra nutrients to the soil, like compost, which further adds to soil water-retention and reduces water loss. Use pine nuggets, pine straw or other wood chips or shavings for mulching ornamental plants; layers of shredded newspaper work as well.
Use a drip (or trickle) irrigation system to drip water directly into the root zone of plants. Above-ground sprinkler systems in the garden use more water and not all of it reaches the roots of the plants where it is most needed. Use a soaker hose connected to an outdoor water spigot or purchase a more involved system from a garden center. For container plants, use products designed for pots, such as water spikes and decorative globes, that hold water and slowly release it to the root system.