When summer temperatures sizzle, our gardens feel the hot sun as much as we do. Help your plants beat the heat with a little extra tender loving care, without wasting water or money in the process. Below are tips to protect your garden during the hot weather and manage water efficiently.

Add organic matter, such as compost. Incorporating organic matter improves your soil’s ability to resist evaporation and retain moisture. It also slowly releases nutrients to plants, keeping them less stressed and susceptible to pests.

Raise your lawnmower blade. Taller grass encourages deeper root growth and helps retain soil moisture better than a closely cropped lawn. It also offers additional shade and keeps soil cooler. Raise the mower blade to at least 3 inches and scale back the mowing to every other week.

Plan carefully. Different plants require different amounts of water. When selecting trees, shrubs, ground covers, perennials and annuals for your garden, group those with similar watering needs.

Control the weeds. Most weeds grow at an astounding rate. Weeds compete with flowers, grasses, vegetables and other plants for not just water, but sunlight and nutrients as well. It’s best to stay on top of them before they gain a foothold in your landscape.

Inspect for inefficiencies. Check irrigation systems for leaks and broken or clogged sprinkler heads. Adjust your sprinklers so that they are watering your lawn and garden, and not the street.

Timing is everything. Water early in the morning (before 10 a.m.) or later in the evening (after 6 p.m.) when temperatures are cooler and evaporation is minimized. Rather than one long session, water in several short sessions to allow for better absorption and prevent run-off.

Check the weekly watering number to avoid overwatering. The Regional Water Providers Consortium — a group of 20-plus local water providers and Metro — posts the weekly watering number so you know exactly how much water your plants need before you turn on the sprinkler. Visit for more information and tips.

Lindsey Berman is the conservation program manager for the Regional Water Providers Consortium.

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