Our North Texas water supply is subject to escalating pressure due to increasing population, inefficient landscape watering and drought. Of these, landscape watering is the one factor we can each influence directly. At this time of year, many local residents are surveying their yards to determine what changes to make this planting season. Please consider these suggestions as a starting point in the planning process and in the conservation of our most precious resource: water. Even a small change can make a big difference in your water bill and in the effort to conserve water for us all.
- Is it practical to replace your traditional sprinkler with a drip irrigation system? Consult your sprinkler guy. You may find that you are able to utilize much of the equipment already in place.
- Replace plants that are not well adapted to our Texas soil and climate with native plants that are droughttolerant. This does not mean you must replace your flowers with cacti—there are many beautiful plants native to our area. A few I have had personal success with include black-eyed Susan, Indian blanket, daylily, salvia, sage, lamb’s ear, purple coneflower, Turks cap, lantana and wine cup.
- Evaluate turf grass areas. Narrow and oddly shaped spots that are difficult to irrigate properly may be ideal for ground cover, shrubs or even decorative stone. Perhaps a particular area may be better utilized as a patio or deck.
- If you are planting new turf areas, please reconsider. Turf grasses require more frequent watering and maintenance than other landscape plants. If you must plant grass, select the lowest water use turf adapted to the region. St. Augustine and Bermuda grasses are the most common in Texas. Also consider Zoysia grass, buffalo grass or centipede grass.
- Use mulch wherever possible. Mulching will reduce water loss through evaporation, improve water penetration during irrigation, help control weeds and moderate soil temperature.
- Use a mulching mower instead of bagging the lawn clippings. This will return vital nutrients to the soil and provide many of the same benefits gained by mulching your planting beds.
- Harvest rainwater with rain barrels; there are many different styles to choose from. Soon, you will point to your rain barrels with pride and satisfaction because of the water savings.
- People often mistake the side effects of improper irrigation for a pest or fungus problem. Over-irrigation not only wastes water, it is a common cause of lawn damage. Irrigation should be only as infrequent as necessary and deep, to encourage optimal root growth and overall plant health. This in turn creates a hardiness that makes plants less susceptible to pest invasion.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Water Sense program, “Direct water use for a family of four in the United States is 400 gallons a day. Thirty percent of that is for outdoor use alone.” Make a personal commitment to water conservation. One billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water, according to the World Health Organization. Let’s not join them. We must all use water responsibly, so set an example as a good steward for your neighbors.
Ed Arnold is the owner of Natural Pest Solutions in Plano, providing integrated pest management and the elimination of insect pests with natural botanical products. For more info, call 214-763-2758 or visit GuysinGreen.com.