Tips for Saving Water This Summer

Larry Hodgson published thousands of articles and 65 books over the course of his career, in both French and English. His son, Mathieu, has made it his mission to make his father’s writings accessible to the public. This text was originally published in Le Soleil on July 5, 2003.

Summer heat means increased water requirements for plants… but at the same time, restrictions on water use. How can home gardeners cope with this conflicting situation?

We water far too much! It’s a fact that many gardeners overestimate the water requirements of their beds and flowerbeds. Granted, at temperatures of 90? (30°C) and in full sun, many plants visibly wilt, their leaves and stems becoming as limp as a rag… But are they really suffering from drought? Not necessarily. If leaves and stems perk up at the end of the day, it’s a sign that there’s plenty of water in the soil, but that, because of the heat, the plants are temporarily unable to “pump” enough water during the day. It’s only when the plant remains wilted in the evening that there’s a real water shortage.

Photo : Karolina Grabowska

To save water, always mulch flowerbeds. The most efficient watering system is still the perforated hose, as all the water flows directly into the soil. Sprinklers that shoot jets of water into the air often lose more than 75% of the water through evaporation.

Saving Water in the Vegetable Garden

To produce well, vegetables and fruit need evenly moist soil… which means regular watering during dry spells. In fact, most municipalities allow watering of vegetable gardens, even in times of water shortage. Don’t forget, however, that a good mulch can easily reduce water requirements by ¾.

Photo : Gustavo Fring


Containers, flower boxes and baskets require more frequent watering than any other landscaping element, because the roots of the plants growing in them can’t reach deeper into the soil for water. In some cases, you’ll need to water up to twice a day! Obviously, watering containers accounts for very little of a given region’s water use, with each pot receiving only a small amount at a time, but watering them again and again takes a lot of effort. To reduce the watering requirements of container arrangements, consider applying mulch to the surface of the potting soil. Containers placed in the shade and sheltered from the wind will also dry out less quickly.


If there’s one surface that doesn’t need watering, it’s a well-established lawn. Granted, it may turn a little gray in hot weather and even yellow if the heat wave persists, but as soon as the rains return, the grass will turn green again. In fact, it goes into what is known as “summer dormancy”, a perfectly normal situation for lawn grasses.

A freshly laid or spring-seeded lawn, on the other hand, will need watering, as it will not yet have had time to establish itself properly. Municipalities usually allow new lawns to be watered, at least at certain times, even during dry spells. Check with your municipality.

Photo : Pexels

Finally, don’t mow your lawn during drought or heatwaves, or mow it higher than usual (never less than 7.5 cm). A taller lawn casts shade over its roots… and thus reduces its need for watering!

So, before picking up the hose, always ask yourself: is it really necessary to water? If you apply the water-saving methods explained here, your answer should be “no” most of the time!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “Tips for Saving Water This Summer

  1. Mary L Discuillo

    Just one more reason to get a water meter. I use it on my potted stuff twice daily to guide me along. The in ground stuff is watered heavy but only occ from the second year forward to ‘train my roots” to seek out water deeper. I agree most of us water too much, too often, wrong time of day, spray side walks.,, etc.( Including myself), and It’s too precious to be careless.

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