Dear Lazy Environmentalist,

How can I be smart about watering my landscape? 

There is no thirstier task than landscape irrigation, clocking in at about 30 percent of all household water use. To make matters worse, more than 50 percent of the water we use is wasted as a result of evaporation, wind, improper irrigation system design or overwatering. Water restrictions are already in place in many communities in the South and Southwest. One solution for homeowners trying to save water is to install a smarter irrigation system to keep lawns and plants thriving while conserving water and cash.

The Cyber-Rain XCI is a residential sprinkler control system that allows you to program and control your water output directly from your computer via a wireless link (included with the system). The Cyber-Rain automatically connects to weather satellites to adjust the sprinkler schedule to rain and other climate patterns in your area and lets you view how much water you are saving on your computer. The system is equipped with wireless controllers for up to eight separate zones and retails for $349. (More zones can be added by purchasing additional controllers.)

Flowerbeds and plants will benefit from a drip irrigation system that sends a slow trickle of water directly to your plants’ roots from a perforated tube installed beneath the soil’s surface. Drip irrigation systems eliminate evaporation and off-target sprinkling due to gusts of wind. The systems are affordable (typically as low as $40), though you may want to hire a professional to make sure it’s installed properly. The EPA’s WaterSense website maintains an active list of landscaping professionals across the country who are qualified to install and provide maintenance on such systems. Check out Dripdepot.comto view a wide selection of drip irrigation systems, and be sure to check out the company’s simple online tutorials and videos that guide you through the installation process should you choose to DIY.

* * *

Excerpted from Josh's latest book, "The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget."

Got a question? Submit a question to Mother Nature and one of our many experts will track down the answer. Plus: Visit our advice archives to see if your question has already been tackled.

Photo: Jupiterimages