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The San Miguel Basin Extension office provides assistance and programs for citizens in five main areas: 4-H/Youth Development, Ag/Local Food, Gardening, Natural Resources and Home, Family & Health.

Water Conservation in the Garden   arrow

Water Conservation in the Garden


  • Minimize high water-use areas like lawns
  • Plant lawns on flat area to avoid water waste from runoff
  • Plant species appropriate to your location
  • Group plants with similar water needs together
  • Locate plants that require the most water or more frequent watering near water source…
  • Locate plants that require the most water in areas protected from the hottest sun and wind (often on north and east facing sites)…
  • Only grow plants that are drought resistant or water-conserving*
  • Space plants widely to reduce competition for water. (Interestingly, I’ve also read to plant closer together to reduce evaporation, but I know the first way works.)
  • Plant just before the monsoon season and let the rains help establish new plants
  • Incorporate organic matter into soil to hold water
  • Apply mulch to reduce evaporation
  • Don’t overwater!
  • Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation
  • Water more deeply, less frequently
  • Water slow-draining soils, like clay, in several short intervals to reduce runoff
  • Water during the coolest times of day or when your garden is shaded
  • Don’t water when it is extremely windy
  • Don’t water automatically when you’ve received adequate rainfall (> ½”)
  • Install an automatic irrigation system with a controller that adjusts watering schedule based on actual weather data
  • Install rain gauge on your irrigation controller
  • Plant in natural depressions and paths of runoff
  • Plant windbreaks
  • Create your own depressions, swales and underground trenches to direct water
  • For vegetables: amend, mulch, use drip or soaker hoses, grow only what you need, plant in blocks not rows, focus watering on most critical periods for each specific crop, cover with row cover fabric
  • In Colorado it is required that you apply to the state to harvest, store and use rainwater or graywater. Counties may have additional requirements.
  • Maintain your garden as healthy as possible: reapply mulch, weed regularly, and keep irrigation system in good shape, etc.

 Seven Principles of Xeriscaping™
     Plan ahead & Design

  1. Include practical, but limit unnecessary, turf areas
  2. Select compatible plants
  3. Understand and improve the soil
  4. Apply appropriate mulch
  5. Irrigate efficiently
  6. Care for the garden

Rainwater Collection in CO_06707

 Serving the San Miguel Basin (San Miguel and West Montrose Counties) since 1921. This Informational Handout was written by Yvette Henson, CSU Extension Director and Agriculture, Natural Resources and Horticulture Agent for San Miguel Basin.  For other Fact Sheets or information on growing ‘High and Dry’ (at high altitude with water limitations) come by our office at 1120 Summit Street (across from the Fairgrounds) in Norwood, call 970-327-4393.

 Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Colorado counties cooperating.  Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.