How to Save Money When Watering Your Lawn and Garden

Fresh water is a limited resource—but you have to keep watering your lawn and your plants, or they’ll die. Here’s how to do it frugally

In a lot of cities these days, you can get a hefty fine if you’re caught watering your lawn or garden except on a specific, stringent schedule. This makes sense, since our water supplies are often limited. But do you really have to let your plants and yard die?

Not if you use your noggin–and it doesn’t have to cost the Earth, either. Here are three tips that can help you conserve water and have enough for your petunias.

Barrels O’ Fun

While rain barrels may bring to mind frontier days, they’re starting to make a comeback, and for good reason. During the average rainstorm, hundreds of gallons of water can fall on your roof. So why not use it to cut down on your water bill?

Modern rain barrels can be made of anything from wood to plastic, and they’re simple to use: just put one at the end of a downspout. Most come with spigots at the base that you can attach a hose to, and then use the water that they’ve caught to irrigate your flowers and grass.

Otherwise, you can dip a watering can in easy enough. And no worries about mosquitoes: you can purchase mosquito dunks at most hardware stores. These little donut-shaped goodies release microorganisms that kill mosquito larvae, but they’re safe for people, plants, and pets.

Dishwater Dull

Dishwater, especially the rinse-water, is perfectly acceptable to most plants; they don’t mind the soap residue at all. In fact, soap is an ingredient in most organic insecticides.

Wash water is more problematic, but you can still use it to water your plants, assuming that it isn’t too gray or greasy. But fair warning: it’s best to use this kind of dishwater on the lawn or ornamental plants, rather than anything you may end up eating.


Know what happens when you cool warm air? Moisture condenses out. That’s why air conditioning units are constantly dripping. Well, there’s nothing wrong with that water–it’s basically clean stuff pulled right out of the air. So why not collect it for your plants?

Put a bucket or barrel under the outflow of your AC unit; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a window or central version. You may not catch much water (especially in more arid environments), but every drop helps.

H2O to Go

While the water conservation measures I’ve outlined here may not seem like much, they also aren’t very hard to implement. Rather than let these sources of water go to waste, make sure your lawn’s the greenest on the block next summer. They can’t fine you for watering your lawn with air conditioner juice!