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Water conservation info April 2017

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Native Landscaping info and Water Conservation info for presentation for Rockdale Intermediate schools. They needed a speaker from the Master Naturalists chapter we are part of to come discuss use of Native Plants and Water Conservation in the Garden Space. This is the information we provided as a speaker and stayed to discuss volunteer projects as well.

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Water conservation info April 2017

  1. 1. Water Conservation and use of Native Plants in the Garden Space Picture from Pinterest – Explore Texas Landscaping Ideas
  2. 2. Definition of Native Plant: Indigenous or native plant – evolved and occurs naturally, with no human intervention, in a particular region or environment (NLCP, NPSOT) What are Native Plants and what are the Main Benefits of using them in the Garden and Landscaping? Red Salvia – Texas Native
  3. 3. Native Plants: • Save Water • Improve Water Quality • Provide Wildlife Habitat • Improve Air Quality • Reduce Maintenance (NLCP, NPSOT)
  4. 4. Native Plants Save Water • Once Established Native Plants Survive on local rainfall amounts • Native Plants Save Water due to establishing large and long root systems • Native Plants improve water quality by filtering out impurities, recharge groundwater aquifers, slow the rate of runoff (NLCP, NPSOT)
  5. 5. Techniques to Retain Water in the Gardenscape Detaining and treating stormwater/rainwater on site instead of treating as a wastewater product saves water for future use (NLCP, NPSOT) • Rain Gardens – shallow vegetated depressions that hold water a short time • Bioswales – vegetated channels that collect, convey and filter stormwater • Wetlands & Ponds – larger and hold more water and are also vegetated • Harvesting Rainwater Pic from HarvestH2O.com
  6. 6. Native Plants Provide Wildlife Habitat Monarch Butterfly is the best example: • Only lay eggs on milkweed • Larvae once hatched only eat milkweed • Milkweed toxins provide protection for both larvae and adults from predators Wildlife Diversity is important for a healthy ecosystem Providing for wildlife habitat brings good insects for the garden which bring birds and other wildlife that would not exist otherwise. Many of these insects eat the pesky harmful insects in your garden like aphids and caterpillars. Healthy ecosystems allow us to survive, get enough food to eat and make a living.
  7. 7. Native Plants Improve Air Quality • During photosynthesis: plants take in carbon dioxide (CO2) from air and water from the soil to make food • The CO2 is converted to carbon and oxygen is released back into air • The carbon is stored (sequestered) in plant tissue as sugar • Air quality is improved by the removal of CO2 – a greenhouse gas (NLCP, NPSOT)
  8. 8. Native plants reduce temperatures via shading and transpiration which affects air quality. (NLCP, NPSOT) Urban temperatures can be higher than surrounding rural areas by 5 or more degrees, creating a heat island (NLCP, NPSOT) Native plants reduce harmful emissions. Gas powered lawn equipment produce harmful air emission = Reducing turf areas decreases the use of lawn equipment (NLCP, NPSOT)
  9. 9. Native Plants Reduce Maintenance • Little or no irrigation once established • Less mowing • Little or no fertilization or pesticides • Less waste – leaves and clippings may be reused (NLCP, NPSOT)
  10. 10. Water Conservation in the Garden Best watering time - early morning before the temperatures begin to rise, winds are lower and there is less evaporation. Morning watering gives the plants a good supply of water to face the heat of the day. Worst watering time - Avoid evening watering especially on the leaves as night-time temperatures are often inadequate to dry the moisture on the leaves. This can encourage some fungal pathogens to grow. However, any time plants start to show symptoms of drought stress is the time to water them – even if this means the middle of the day. Install a tank - collect water from your roof to use in your garden. All sizes of tanks are available. Save your Cooking Water - If you steam or boil vegetables, save the water rather than pouring it down the drain. Great free fertilizer for the plants Reuse Fish Tank Water - When you clean your fish tank, use the used fish water full of nitrogen and phosphorous-rich water on your plants. Collect Shower Water - Put a couple of buckets in the bottom of your shower, while the water is heating up as it’s running to collect that water for reuse on your garden. Use a Compost System - compost holds moisture in your soil and helps retain nutrients where they’re needed
  11. 11. Mulch is one of the best water loss prevention strategies for the garden. It prevents evaporation from the soil surface, helps suppress water-thirsty weeds from growing and many mulches can add vital nutrients to the soil at the same time. Avoid fine mulches that tend to clump and become water-repellent. Instead, use a coarser mulch which allows water/rain to move down through to the soil. A depth of 8-10cm in a garden bed is ideal. Apply mulch onto moist soil and water in well. Watch ingredients in the mulch and avoid chemically treated mulch if possible. Water Conservation in the Garden (continued) Check the weather and soil moisture on a regular basis. Turning off the sprinklers when rain is occurring or in the forecast helps reduce water usage. Using a soil moisture meter helps you keep the correct amount of moisture that the garden needs in mere seconds. • 10-30% = soil is too DRY need to water • 40-70% = soil is MOIST/wet enough no need to water yet • 80-100% = soil is too WET do NOT water Use organic matter in the garden. Organic matter absorbs many times its own weight in water, which is then available for plant growth. It provides many benefits. Clay soils with added organic matter will accept water more quickly and organically amended sandy soils hold water longer, and don’t need to be watered as frequently. One of the easiest ways to build organic matter is to add compost that breaks down to humus. This has an amazing potential to hold moisture, nutrients and build soil health. Compost has a buffering effect against drought and plant stresses too. You can also add organic matter with worm castings; vegetable scraps; mulches like nutrient-rich lucerne (also known as alfalfa) and pea straw; lawn clippings and leaves.
  12. 12. Water Conservation in the Garden (continued) Plan the garden design and plants to be used: • Use water-loving plants that absorb moisture in boggy areas. • Use diversion techniques and swales to allow water to absorb into the ground slowly. • Build mounds around trees and shrubs to reduce runoff and allow moisture to soak slowly into the soil around the canopy drip line and roots. • Good design also applies to pruning techniques. Remove unnecessary lower branches/leaves from trees. Fewer leaves = less moisture loss lowering the tree’s water requirements. Species with low water needs will save you time and money in the garden. These include: • established or slow growing plants • small plants • varieties with small or narrow leaves • grey or silver foliage • leathery, hairy, curled or fuzzy leaves that typically require less moisture. • Newly planted vegetation will require more water until established. • Needy high fertilizer plants require more water • Large leafed plants lose water faster than slender leave varieties. • Drought tolerant does not always equal low water use. Some varieties use a lot of water when it’s accessible. Most grasses are an example of this.
  13. 13. RDHS.LLC@gmail.com Aggie Owned & Operated ~ Class of ‘90 Several slides contained info learned from the following: NLCP, Native Landscape Certification Program; NPSOT, Native Plant Society of Texas.

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