The weather can be unpredictable, whether you’re getting heavy downpours or long periods of dry skies. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can squeeze every last bit of beauty out of your landscape during the times water is in short supply. Not only will cutting back your H2O consumption ease the burden on Mother Nature, but it will also keep your water bills low.

Go local (with your landscape design)

You might like the look of a hibiscus bush or the simplicity of the prickly pear cactus, but that doesn’t mean these plants will grow well in your space. Try using native plants in your outdoor areas. These flowers, trees, and shrubs are preconditioned for the specific levels of soil, sunshine, and precipitation and have evolved a resistance to local fungal pathogens and diseases. Furthermore, local plants become an oasis for native wildlife. Bees and other pollinators will actually work on your behalf to keep your lawn and garden beautiful. If you want to stick with your theme of environmentally friendly planting, consider using coffee grounds, crushed egg shells, or dried banana peels instead of chemically engineered fertilizers. Use only healthy plants, particularly trees, which can be purchased from your local nursery. When planting trees, before you start digging, contact your utilities department to determine if there are any underground obstructions, such as a natural gas or plumbing line, which might result in costly repairs.

Harvest rainwater

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to conserve water is to collect and store rainwater when precipitation is plenty. Rainwater harvesting is simply the process of collecting runoff, typically from the roof and gutters. The benefits of collecting rainwater are many. Not only is it absolutely free, but it will also reduce stormwater runoff, which may reduce flood damage during heavy downpours. A rain barrel can cost anywhere from $20 to $150 or more, but you can make your own using a trash can or barrel sourced from a local car wash or food distributor. Another way to utilize rainfall is to plant a rain garden. Typically, this will be located near a downspout or driveway – anywhere there is a shallow depression that captures rainwater runoff.

Have the right tools

Before you begin any landscaping project, it’s important to have the right tools. This Old House recommends a cordless mulching mower if you have an urban lot. The refuse you collect can be used to enrich your ornamental or vegetable garden. You will also need a shovel, rake, garden hoe, and wheelbarrow. Protect your hands and feet with comfortable work boots and high-quality leather, fabric, or nitrile garden gloves.

Change your watering schedule

If you must water your plants, consider changing your routine to water in the evening or early morning. You can also cut down on your watering frequency by allowing deeper waterings and installing rain sensors that will prevent your automatic sprinklers from turning on if the ground is already wet. Add a soaking hose to your garden bed, which will allow you to concentrate your efforts closer to the roots and will prevent water from being wasted by sticking to leaves and being evaporated by the sun.

It’s easy to believe that water is in infinite supply. The reality is that it’s a limited resource that we must learn to conserve for the next generation. By implementing water-preservation strategies at home, you can do just this and conserve another precious resource: cash.