According National Geographic, more than 60 percent of a household’s water use is from yards. Another brutal statistic? We can lose up to three gallons of water per day just from one leaky faucet or hose.

Never before, especially with the constant droughts in the western United States, has such an emphasis been placed on water conservation. We can all make changes to how we care for our yards and gardens. Here are some ways in which we can save on water—and not all of them have to do with limiting our use of water; there are many strategies to consider!

Find your baseline; in most areas, an inch of water per week is adequate to water plants and grass. But perhaps you don’t need to do this yourself; the rain might take care of it for you! Pay attention to rainfall counts in your area, and do an experiment yourself by putting a measuring cup in your yard. This will give you a more realistic view of how much water your property needs.

Think about xeriscaping—this somewhat new term (or at least in it being a widespread trend) refers to adding plants that can survive in extremely arid areas. By adding plants that can tolerate drought conditions, you’ll add to the variety of plants you have from an aesthetic standpoint too, while also reducing the number of plants that need water. Add a little Arizona to your Pennsylvania!

Recycle water. There are a number of ways to do this; a cistern (water barrel) can collect rainwater, which you can later use to water plants and your lawn using a hose attachment. Be sure the barrel is covered to prevent evaporation, and monitor closely for mosquitos; that’s the one downfall of having standing water. Other ways to recycle water is to get out of the habit of dumping unfinished water or leftovers from boiling water for vegetables—use that to water your greens!

Finally, remember that mulch locks in moisture and native plants require less water. 

The pops of color in pristine gardens and the meticulous landscaping you see each spring and summer doesn’t happen overnight—there’s a lot of thought, preparation and hard work that goes into these projects. And it all starts about this time of year.

Here, we’ll provide a few top tips on getting your shed ready for spring, as well as some spring gardening tips.

Get Your Shed Ready

Your shed might sit dormant during the colder months—unless of course that’s also where you keep your snow removal equipment! But, either way, your outdoor structure and the items inside it might need a little TLC after winter:

  • Check for leaks; repair if necessary
  • Clean siding and windows; make necessary repairs/touch-ups
  • Check any hooks, inside or outside; secure/repair/replace if necessary
  • Check around foundation for debris/holes; clean and repair as needed
  • Clean and sharpen your tools; repair and replace items, if necessary

Early-Spring Gardening Tips

While there’s an exhaustive list of tips we could share about getting your garden ready for spring, here are a few that might require immediate attention:

  • Remove winter mulch; clean debris from around plants and trees
  • Clean repair garden structures/features (gates, fences, trellis, birdbaths, etc.)
  • Prune and trim plants and trees
  • Start a compost pile, and start with your debris from spring clean-up efforts
  • Revitalize soil and add mulch
  • Plan what you want to plant; order seeds

Adding power to your outdoor structures, whether a shed, playhouse, gazebo or other features, allows you to enjoy them longer and more fully. Maybe some music will add to the ambience of your backyard entertaining, or perhaps you want to ensure your kids’ clubhouse can be used past dusk.

However, lights, speakers, and other tools and amenities require juice. Depending on your set-up and the distance from your home or other conventional source, getting power to your structure might not be easy or efficient. Instead of digging trenches and running wires, you can consider installing solar panels to your structures rooftop. It’s environmentally friendly, too!

Before you fully consider this option, be sure that enough direct sunlight hits your structure. If it’s a go, then you can decide if you’d want to hire a contractor or solar company to install and wire the panels for you, or if it’s a project you and some friends and relatives can tackle. There are many DIY websites out there with detailed information on how to do this—a web search will reveal plans, kits, materials lists and more to help you get started.

Solar power is a renewable energy source, and if you’re looking to learn more about harnessing that sunshine, starting with a smaller project like a shed our out-building could be a practical and fun place to start.