Be Water Wise with Xeriscaping
With population of Texas growing and new houses being built, a question that has been asked how can we conserve water and still have a beautiful yard?
Water in some states has been limited to drinking water. As a result, major conservation practices have been enacted that limit water for yard and garden use. When a homeowner buys a house, they may want to maintain a healthy yard. The new landscape may need trees, shrubs and flower beds. The question must be asked where will the water come from to establish the landscape? Since the lakes and streams of Texas are full, plenty of water has been available. Will the plants that are established this year have the water they need to survive next year? Texas is one state that has been identified as using over 25 to 30 percent of its available water for landscapes.
“Texas Agricultural Extension Service is working to educate homeowners and businesses in a form of landscaping that reduces the amount of water needed and allowing the homeowner to have an attractive yard. This is called Xeriscaping.”
A form of using less grassy areas that requ large amount of water. Rocks, walkways are just several ways of reducing the amount of grass in a yard. If you have an established yard, you can convert some of the grass area to a xeriscape and still maintain the individual look and an attractive space. Before a home or business decides to undertake this process, a plan should be established. There are several principles of design that can help reduce the need for water. You can design your own yard or use a landscape planner. The landscape planner can provide you with several options for the area. Boulders and rock may be one idea. It is also n for a water wise drip system.
The first step would be to plan and develop a design that would be pleasing to you and those that will drive by and see the space.
If you live in a restricted area the homeowner should make sure that the homeowners association has approved the design changes. You can leave some areas with the grass if you like that look, merely reduce the need for watering.
If you plan on having some areas with grass, make sure that it is a Texas native grass and can withstand the heat and cold temperatures. A native grass will reduce the amount of water you have to use from a sprinkler system and allow rain to keep the area green. Less grass will mean less mowing. Native grasses are less likely to need chemicals, saving the environment and improving the quality of air.
In the native black land in which we live has been farmed and often the nutrients have been depleted. It is possible that when you dig into your ground there is rock instead of rich soil. These are factors that should be assessed before planting. It is wise to have a soil test performed before any planting. It is easier to enrich the soil before you plant than try to apply nutrients after the fact. Contact your Agriculture center for a kit and test the soil first. There is a small fee for soil testing, but it will save money later.
“Any plants that will be added to the foundation should also be native Texas plants. If you visit with your local Plant Nursery they can help you choose the size and shape. They can provide information about planting and help you determine if the mature specimen will fit the space.”
When planting trees and shrubs it is important that they can co-exist. Water, sunlight, and nutrient needs should be similar for all plants added to the space. Don’t forget the mature plant may provide too much or too little protection for the under plantings.
Irrigation should be a prime consideration as well. Too much or too little water can be destructive for the plants. Established plants may not need additional water. So, plan the irrigation system before planting. If you use sprinklers or a drip system this will allow better control on the amount of water used in a given area. Hand watering is also a good way to control the amount of water. These methods can save money and water.
“If you must water by hand the best time is mid- morning or late evening. Over watering will allow water to stand rather than be absorbed by the roots. Plants that stand in a soggy area will be more likely to encounter disease and insects. If you can install a sprinkler or drip system that is on a timer it will reduce the amount of water needed and help with disease control.”
All garden areas flower or vegetable should be mulched. It reduces the amount of evaporation and will prevent weeds in the area. If you have a combination of grass and rock area, make sure that the water is only covering the plant portion. Sprinklers should be adjusted and repaired as needed. A slow drip is better that a windblown sprinkler.
“If possible install a rain barrel for use during dry periods. Water off the house can be collected and used during dry periods. It helps the environment, provides a cleaner water with less chemicals, and saves on the water bill.”