When it comes to watering your yard efficiently, nothing is more important than making sure you have your priorities in order.

1. Review your water bill. A spike in your usage may indicate a leak. The EPA estimates that a leak about the thickness of a dime can waste 6,300 gallons per month.

2. Only water things that grow, not your sidewalk or driveway. Position your sprinklers to minimize wasted water and adjust them for wind drift. Check your sprinklers for breaks, leaks and damage at least once a month.

3. Update your landscape with native, drought-tolerant plants that naturally thrive in your area.

4. Divide plants into zones according to their water needs so groundcover, shrubs and trees can be watered separately and less frequently.

5. Water roots directly to reduce water waste from evaporation and runoff. Opt for a low-volume drip irrigation system and water individual plants with your household greywater.

6. Water plants only when they need it. Overwatering can lead to fungus and disease, soggy soil and excess runoff. If plant leaves begin to curl and footprints last longer than usual because the grass doesn’t bounce back, it's time to water.

7. Morning is best. Water between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. when low temperatures and calm winds allow plants to absorb the most. Midday watering is more susceptible to evaporation and windy conditions, and watering in the evening can leave plants wet overnight—an open invitation for fungus to grow.

8. Water for shorter periods of time. Soil becomes saturated quickly, so excess water runs off and is never absorbed. Take 15-minute breaks between sessions to let water soak in.

9. Add mulch to cool soil and reduce water use during hot summer months. Applying mulch helps drainage, encourages root development and improves soil by making nutrients more available to plants.