Over the summer, the demand for water to maintain lawns and gardens can stress supply and reservoir systems, and increase costs for taxpayers and users. Bearing in mind watering restrictions that may apply in your municipality, consider the following ways to minimize your overall water consumption during extended periods without rainfall. First, check your hose or irrigation equipment for leaks, and position sprinklers so that you’re not wasting water on hard surfaces such as driveways and patios. To apply water more directly to the soil and reduce evaporation, use a soaker hose placed on the ground at the base of plants. Whenever possible, water slowly to avoid run-off, ideally in early morning – before the heat of the summer sun can cause evaporation. For conservation, direct rainwater from your roof gutters and downspouts to one or more rain barrels, but be sure to use insect screening to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.