Drought Response: How to keep your landscape alive during the drought - Texas
Irrigation Systems: The goal of any irrigation Quick Tipssystem is to give plants a sufficient amount ofwater in the absence of rainfall. Both sprinkler Make sure your irrigation system is in goodand drip irrigation can be incorporated to working order. Find any leaks and brokenachieve water conservation in the landscape. heads.Sprinkler irrigation is the most commonly Turn off automatic sprinkler settings. Irrigateused method of turfgrass watering. Make sure based on plant stress or on-line tools.the sprinkler heads are adjusted properly toavoid watering sidewalks and driveways. Also, http://texaset.tamu.edua properly adjusted sprinkler head sprays large Don’t water lawns during heat of the day; wa- Drought Response:droplets of water instead of a fine mist which is ter in early morning.more susceptible to evaporation and wind drift. Watch your landscape watering—don’t water How to keep your landscapeWater in the early morning to avoid excessive sidewalks, driveways or streets, or let water runwaste through evaporation. Retrofit an existing down the street. alive during the droughtsprinkler system with multiple stream rotorheads to save up to 30% on your water use. Use low volume drip or trickle irrigation forPerform an irrigation audit to save the most garden and bedding plants.water. Drip irrigation offers increased water- Mulch trees, shrubs and other plants to keeping efficiency and plant performance when moisture in the soil longer. This also controlscompared to sprinkler irrigation. Water applied weeds that compete with plants for water.by drip irrigation has little chance of waste Watering deeply and infrequently encouragesthrough evaporation or runoff. Replace yoursprinkler head in your flower beds with drip deeper roots which withstand dry weather bet-irrigation to save water and more effectively ter. A deeply watered lawn should be able toirrigate. go 5 to 8 days between irrigations. To irrigate trees and large shrubs in the lawn,Mulching Conserves Moisture: Use a layer of water at their drip line—that is where the feed-organic mulch to cover the soil surface aroundplants. A good mulch conserves water by sig- ing root system of a tree or shrub is.nificantly reducing moisture evaporation from Mow frequently to avoid cutting more thanthe soil. Mulch also reduces weed populations, one third of the leaf blade on any cutting.prevents soil compaction, keeps soil tempera- Rainwater harvesting systems can provide sup-tures more moderate, and provides a source of plemental water for landscapes and pets.plant nutrients as it decomposes. Don’t use the hose to clean off sidewalks or driveways; sweep them clean.Proper Mowing and Fertilizing Conserves Don’t put debris, yard clippings or leaves Texas AgriLife Extension ServiceWater: Mowing grass at the proper height con-serves water. Applying fertilizer to the lawn at down storm drains. Collin Countythe proper times and in the proper amount cansave time, effort and money through reducedmowing and watering. Use a slow-release formof nitrogen to prevent ground water contamina- Need Help? Contact the Horticulture Help Desktion. Have the soil tested to determine the rate http://www.ccmgatx.orgof fertilizer. Most north Texas lawns do not firstname.lastname@example.org, 972-548-4219need any phosphorus, so use a Nitrogen onlyfertilizer. http://earth-kind.tamu.eduBy following these guidelines and tips, you can http://collincountygardening.tamu.eduproudly create your own Earth Kind landscape.
Start With a Plan: Creating a water-efficient Watering: Of the tremendous amounts of water landscape begins with a well-thought-out land- applied to lawns and gardens, much of it is never scape design. Designing a landscape with the absorbed by the plants and put to use. Some wa- practical use of turf grass can lower your water ter is lost to runoff by being applied too rapidly, use and maintenance efforts. Visit the Earth-Kind and some water evaporates from exposed, un- website for more detailed advice. mulched soil; but, the greatest waste of water isDrought: How to keep your land- applying too much too often. In addition to over- Soil Analysis and Preparation: To increase watering the plant, excess irrigation can leach nu-scape alive during drought plant health and conserve water, incorporate at trients deep into the soil away from plant roots, least 3 inches of compost to the soil of shrub and increasing the chances of polluting groundwater.Being prepared for drought is the best de- flower bed areas. This increases the soil’s ability Similarly, runoff caused by excess irrigation canfense homeowners can have to keep their to absorb and store water in a form available to carry polluting fertilizers and pesticides to streamslandscapes alive when drought conditions the plant. Get a soil test done to determine how and lakes. The waste or pollution of high qualityoccur. If you have lived in Texas for very much, if any, fertilizer is required. Current studies water through inefficient irrigation practices can be are showing that no fertilizer is needed in land- eliminated through proper watering techniques.long, you know that drought regularly occurs scape beds if you maintain a 3 inch layer of woodand there is no such thing as a “normal” year mulch. Lawns: Most lawns receive twice as much waterwhen it comes to rainfall. Drought prepara- as they require for a healthy appearance. The keytion requires the incorporation of water con- Plant Selection: Selecting drought tolerant to watering lawns is to apply the water infrequent-serving principles into the lawn and land- plants that are either native or adapted to your ly, yet thoroughly. This creates a deep, well-rooted local environment can have a tremendous impact lawn that efficiently uses water stored in the soil.scape prior to drought conditions. on your ability to save water. Texas is blessed To know when to water the lawn, simply observe with an abundance of beautiful native plants the grass. Wilting and discoloration are signs ofEarth-Kind Environmental Stewardship is a which are naturally adapted to the region. Most water stress. Watering only when needed andresearch and education program offered by have lower water demands, fewer pest problems watering thoroughly produces a deep-rooted lawnthe Extension Service. The program is a and less fertilizer needs. Combining Texas na- which is more water efficient and drought endur-landscape management system that is fo- tives with well-adapted non-native plants is a key ing.cused on water conservation, pollution pre- to a beautiful, interesting landscape which con- Trees and Shrubs: All trees and shrubs needvention, waste reduction, and energy conser- serves water. more frequent watering from planting time untilvation. becoming well rooted, which may take two or Grass Selection: When considering a land- three growing seasons. Once established, plants scape’s water requirement, it is important to note can then be weaned to tolerate less frequent wa-Principles of Earth-Kind include: that turfgrasses require more frequent watering Planning and design tering. Water established trees, shrubs and and maintenance than most other landscape groundcovers infrequently, yet thoroughly. In the Soil analysis plants. Carefully select grass according to its in- absence of rain, most trees and shrubs benefit Practical turf areas tended use, planting location and maintenance from a once-a-month thorough watering during the Appropriate plant selection requirements. Planting the lowest water use growing season. Remember, normal lawn water- Use of mulches turfgrass adapted to the region is an effective ing is not a substitute for thorough tree and shrub Appropriate maintenance way to reduce landscape irrigation requirements. watering. Apply water and fertilizer just inside and Achieving a significant reduction in water con- a little beyond the dripline, not at the trunk. Simply sumption and landscape maintenance may also lay a slowly running hose on the ground and move involve reducing the size of water-sensitive lawns it around the dripline as each area becomes satu- through the use of patios, decks, shrub beds and rated to a depth of 6 to 10 inches. groundcovers.