Did you know that every plant in your garden beds and each blade of grass on your lawn contains at least 85 percent water? This is why professional landscape design often starts from a place of visualizing water usage and flow (especially here in California where every drop literally counts).

It is also why even the best landscape design ideas, once implemented, may fail to survive and thrive if your new greenery gets too much or not enough hydration. Some plants simply need more watering while others need less, especially as the seasons shift.

And there is no doubt that calculating just the right amount of water is becoming more challenging with the onset of climate change, which is why we wanted to share these general tips you can apply to your own landscape greenery.

What Does Hydration Do for Grass and Plants?

Hydration offers much more than just nourishment to your garden, lawn, trees and landscape.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens out there on the lawn right after you turn the sprinkler system on.


Plants can’t order takeout or go through the drive through when they are hungry. They have to make their own food from scratch in-house. They do this through a process called photosynthesis.

You probably remember photosynthesis from your school biology textbook. The “photo” in this word refers to light – specifically, sunlight. The “synthesis” refers to how plants use water, sunlight and air to make their food, which is glucose, a simple sugar carbohydrate.

So even though you probably have bags of fertilizer and additives labeled “plant food,” these really aren’t true food sources for your lawn and garden. They are simply boosters that help plants and grass make food more quickly and efficiently.


The word transpiration basically means “sweating plants.” Plants don’t sweat through pores like people do. Rather, they sweat through tiny holes in their leaves that are called stomata.

What makes a plant start sweating? They do this for basically the same reason that people and pets sweat – to try to self-regulate their temperature. A plant or blade of grass will start sweating, or transpiring when it gets too hot. The act of sweating cools the plant and keeps cells from dying off.


While it is true that plants can’t order takeout, their cells actually can – and do. Circulation is the process by which hydration transports vital nutrients from the surrounding soil and air into the plant, delivering them to each cell inside the plant’s structure.

In this way, hydration functions a lot like your own circulatory system, carrying nutrition to the cells and then transporting away waste and unnecessary by-products.

Keeping Your Lawn and Garden Well Hydrated Isn’t Always Easy

There is a reason we get so many calls from new clients who want to know if it is possible to save their soggy or bone-dry lawns, leaves and foliage. It isn’t always easy to care for plants in the way they need!

So now let’s take a look at some general tips to help you keep your grass, garden beds, lawn and landscape happy and healthy.

Study what each varietal needs.

Different plants can have vastly different care needs and requirements. Some are quite tolerant of dry conditions from the start and others only after they have become established.

Some are literally thirsty all the time and can’t see to ever drink enough. And some plants fall somewhere in between.

While it can take a bit of work on the front end, plotting out what each plant under your care needs from you, including moisture requirements, can make your lawn and garden care strategy so much easier as well as less costly.

Hydrate in sections.

First, it is important to plan out your strategy in advance in sections. This not only conserves resources (and your monthly hydro bill) but also allows for each area to get the moisture it needs, neither too little nor too much.

Here, it is also vital as much as you can to ensure your landscape design groups like-needs plant life together. It is much harder to care for plants with very different care needs when they are placed side by side in a garden bed!

If you have inherited a landscape design where unlike varietals must share available moisture, one good tip is to use spikes or straws to deliver hydration individually to the plants that need more while sparing those that need less.

Ultimately, when time and budget allows, you may want to consider some different landscape design ideas to lessen your workload and ensure the survival of your plant life.

Use tools to conserve moisture.

There are lots of strategies you can employ to conserve moisture and also protect your wallet. Timed sprinkler systems, where available, are a great aid to this end.

Mulch offers an easy, economical way to hold moisture in without risk of leaving the roots over-saturated. The mulch will absorb moisture that might otherwise drown the roots, holding it close so the plant can make use of hydration as it needs more.

Visual inspection is sometimes the hands-down best way to tell when your plants are getting too much or not enough moisture.

Do you see yellow leaves or wilting stalks? Is the soil surface around the base of the plant slick or slimy or – worse – stinky? These are often signs that the roots are drowning in moisture.

Is the soil surrounding the base of a plant dry, cracked, more like a desert than an oasis? Some plants like this but most can only endure, hoping that the signs of moisture-depletion are seen, noticed and quickly remedied.

By using these tips and tools and getting to know each plant individually, you can begin to feel truly confident in caring for your lawn and garden as a whole while tending to each plant’s needs.