1. Water in the morning: The sun is low, winds are calm and temperatures are cool. Watering during the day is less efficient because of possible water loss due to evaporation. Watering in the evening can leave plants wet overnight, which could lead to fungus or plant disease.
2. Water wisely: A steady stream of water from a garden hose will only wet the surface and run off. To determine how long you should run your sprinkler set a glass in the middle of the area being sprinkled and keep track of how long it takes for an inch of water to collect in the glass. For bigger areas like the lawn, place a container at different locations in the sprinkler’s coverage area and average the results. You can also test your soil by pushing a screwdriver into your lawn. If it’s difficult to push into the ground, the soil is very dry. You can also determine if your grass needs watering by simply stepping on it. If the grass springs back easily, it has plenty of moisture.
3. Protect your plants: Mulch is probably the surest way to ensure the health of all your plants during the heat of summer because it traps moisture and helps keep soil cool. If you applied mulch a few months ago, fluff it.
4. Don’t fertilize when it's hot: Lawn fertilizer can burn your lawn if it sits too long without thorough soakings.
5. Maintain water equipment: Check your irrigation system to make sure everything is working properly. Repair or replace broken or damaged nozzles or heads which can wreak havoc on your landscape and water bill. Make sure sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.
6. Plan ahead while away: Vacation time can be deadly for your plants if you don’t have a reliable neighbor to help keep your container plants healthy. One solution is to pull back the mulch in a shady garden spot. Place potted plants on bare ground in a tight grouping and then tuck the mulch around the base of each pot. Soak the plants and the surrounding soil, and they should be fine for up to a week.
7. Change your landscaping: Avoid the issue of keeping your lawn green in a drought by landscaping your yard with native grasses and plants that require less water. While establishing any new landscape requires more water in the first year or so, a water-wise landscape will require about 20 percent to 50 percent less water from start to maturity.
8. Adjust your mower: Raise your mower level so you don’t cut more than one-third of the grass. Taller grass shades the soil surface, reduces evaporation and helps prevent the sprouting of weeds. And keep your lawn mower sharp. A sharp mower makes a clean cut and keeps the grass healthier.
9. Pest control: Remove any stagnant water to avoid mosquito problems. Look specifically at flowerpots, gutters and birdbaths.
10. Animal control: To protect your garden, place wire mesh in the dirt before you start planting. The roots can go through the mesh, but the animal will not be able to destroy the plants by uprooting them. Moles can wreak particular havoc. They make tunnels in pursuit of grubs, worms and other insects, creating those infamous molehills and lumpy lawns. Moles are attracted to wet soil because it’s easier to dig, so less water means less moles. Once the animal has been removed, the challenge is then putting your yard back together. The key is to get the grass roots back down to the soil. The mole hills can be raked out and re-seeded.