Considering turf and mulch

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Lawns use tons of water and create other problems as well. In fact, lawns are the most consumptive of all landscaping features. If you can't eliminate your lawn, make it smaller. And if you can't make it smaller, at least manage watering well. Aerate your lawn and remove thatch once or twice a year to allow water to penetrate.

Don't forget the water-saving qualities of mulch. A 3- to 4-inch-thick layer of organic mulch covering the surface of the soil can reduce water use by 50 percent or more. Mulching has many other advantages as well; see Chapter 16 for the lowdown.

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