You don’t require a lot of water to build a healthy, vibrant green space. Follow these lawn and garden care practices to save water, promote growth, and control weeds.

  • Water in the morning to prevent evaporation. Night watering can leave the grass wet for long periods, which can promote fungal disease.
  • Don’t overwater. Watering deeply, once a week for clay soil and twice a week for sandy soil, encourages deep, strong roots.
  • Consider using a rain gauge to measure how much water has fallen. Lawns only need approximately 2.5 cm (1 in.) of water a week.
  • If your soil is no longer absorbing water, it may be compacted. Aerate to help rain reach the roots.
  • If you have an irrigation system, set your system to come on once or twice a week, or install rain sensors.
  • Fix leaky garden hoses and connections.

  • Mow when the grass is dry. This will prevent wet clippings from creating clumps, which can damage your lawn and clog the mower.
  • Grass grows less quickly during dry spells and the summer. Mow less during these times.
  • Set the mower to cut 6-7.5 cm (2.5-3 in.). Mowing high helps to strengthen the roots and retain water and nutrients.
  • Use your grass clippings. Made up of 80% water, clippings can help prevent moisture loss, add important nutrients and control weeds.
  • Sharpen the blades of your mower to prevent the grass from tearing. This should be done twice a season, or every eight to 10 hours of use.

  • Native plants and trees adapt to local climate and soils, which makes them low maintenance and naturally drought-tolerant.
  • These plants are also resistant to pests and disease, eliminating the need for pesticides, and provide shelter and food for pollinators, such as birds, bees and butterflies.
  • To find the best native plants for your garden, consult with your local nursery, or visit Evergreen and the North American Native Plant Society.

  • Aerating involves removing small plugs of soil in your lawn to help rain, air and nutrients reach the roots.
  • The best time to aerate is when the ground is slightly moist, either in the spring or fall.
  • You can rent or purchase an aerator at most garden centres or equipment rental locations.

  • Adding compost to your lawn is a great way to add nutrients, promote growth and help improve your lawn’s capacity to hold water.
  • For best results, apply a 1.5 cm (½ in.) layer of compost to the surface of your lawn in the spring or fall.
  • Get free compost at a City of Toronto Community Environment Day near you.

  • Mulch is a great way to keep moisture in the soil, control weeds, even out soil temperature and insulate roots from heat stress.
  • There are many different types of mulch:
    • Straw is an inexpensive mulch and will decay at the end of the season, adding organic material to the soil.
    • Leaves, especially if they are chopped or partially decomposed.
    • Biodegradable plastic mulch made from corn is an environmentally-friendly option, and can be useful for vegetables that like extra heat, such as tomatoes, pepper and eggplant.

  • When planning your garden, group vegetables and herbs according to their moisture needs:
    • Perennial vegetables such as asparagus and rhubarb do not need frequent watering.
    • Herbs like rosemary, sage, oregano, winter savory and thyme improve in flavour in hot, dry conditions. No extra water needed.
  • Prepare your garden on flat soil to reduce run-off and ensure rain stays near the roots.
  • For plants such as tomatoes, peppers and squash, add mulch to keep fruit dry and prevent spoilage.
  • Vegetables prefer rainwater. Use a rain barrel under your downspout to capture rain flowing from your roof.
  • Add 2.5 cm (1 in.) of water one or two days a week to encourage deep root growth. Use a rain gauge to keep track.
  • Avoid using sprinklers to water vegetables. They tend to wet the leaves, which can promote disease, especially in plants such as tomatoes, squash, zucchini and cucumbers.
  • Vegetables should be watered close to the root of the plant. The best way to do this is by hand, using a soaker hose, or installing a drip irrigation system.

Learn more about how to grow your own food.