Xeriscape To Go: Plan Your Water Wise Landscape - Texas
Xeriscape-To-Go Xeriscape (Zer-i-skap) Plan Your Water Wise Landscape While Conserving Our Natural Resources More people are taking advantage of a water-saving concept that improves our home landscape environment.The concept is Xeriscape, a new and exciting idea that helps homeowners everywhere blend traditionalstyle gardening with the desire to save water. By going Xeriscape, your outdoor landscape environmentcan echo the natural world of our region, plus you reap the benefits of saving water, time and money andreducing maintenance. Your Xeriscape garden will use less chemical fertilizer and pesticides, so thewhole environment benefits with fewer chemicals flowing to our precious bay. And if youre not totallyconvinced, Texas studies show that Xeriscape landscapes can use an average of 40% less water thantraditional landscapes. For residential homes, this could mean a substantial amount of summer lawnwater savings. With news like that, everyone will be saying, "Were going Xeriscape"!Seven principles of Xeriscape1. Planning and Designing2. Soil Analysis3. Appropriate Plant Selection4. Practical Turf Areas5. Efficient Irrigation6. Use of Mulches7. Appropriate MaintenanceGOOD THINGS HAPPE IN XERISCAPE GARDENXeriscape garden . . .♦ Offer an attractive, green landscape with hundreds of colorful plants to choose from. Remember, Xeriscape is not just cactus and rocks.♦ May require less maintenance, mowing, fertilizers, pesticides and other yard work.♦ Save energy when trees and shrubs are properly located for lower cooling and heating bills♦ Work with Mother Nature instead of against it.♦ Reduce the demand on our limited water supplies, which extends the life of municipal water and wastewater treatment facilities.♦ Lessen the impact of droughts.♦ Reduce pollution run-off as fertilizers and pesticides are avoided or used sparingly.#1 PLANNING AND DESIGNING A GARDENERS DREAM
A water-efficient landscape begins with a well-planning landscape design. This concept can beapplied if you are starting from scratch or simply renovating residential or commercial property. Theamount of time you invest in planning your project will result in a great deal of satisfaction, plus provideexcellent curb appeal and improved property value. You may choose to do-it-yourself, or seek help fromprofessional landscape architects, designers or nurserymen. We suggest you set objectives and a budgetand envision the appearance, function, maintenance and water requirements of your garden.Study Your Site Start with a scaled drawing or plot plan of the lot or site. Sketch all physical objects on theproperty such as house/building, decks, fence, patios, driveways, trees, overhead utility lines, etc. You cancreate your own plot plan using 24" by 36" transparent tracing paper with grid lines of eight by eightsquares per inch. Select a scale such as 1/8 inch = 1 foot (1 small square equal 1 foot). Identify the soiltype and any possible drainage problems as well as availability to water to the site. Place a north arrow onyour drawing to allow you to consider the amount of sun, shade, and wind direction and view of thegarden. Design of floor plans, foundations and other features should reflect the site topography andexisting vegetation. In new construction, split-level plans, terraces, and decks can help integratestructures into the site and keep the natural contour of the land. Buildings and homes on an east-west axisshould take advantage of existing trees for shade to reduce energy demands for cooling.Envision Your Garden Every landscapers needs vary. Homeowners will children and pets may prefer a large play area.Those who prefer to entertain may desire decks or pools, while the avid gardener may want a space for ayear-around vegetable garden. To successfully plan your garden, review your current and future needs. You may desire toincrease your privacy, to improve a backyard corner or simply wish to cover bare grass areas. Planningyour garden can result in hours of fun. Determine the amount of time and money you wish to invest andrealize that your garden can be implemented gradually over several years. Your plan will be successful ifyou implement each Xeriscape principle. As a reminder, installing or remodeling a garden can be hardwork. We suggest getting help from family or friends. If your budget allows it, find professional help.Help from Professionals A complexity of landscape issues as well as safety and environmental considerations may requireprofessional assistance. Consider hiring professionals to design, install and maintain landscape andirrigation systems. Landscape architects and designers can assist with site layout and landscape design.Licensed irrigators can design and install irrigation systems. Professional landscape contractors andnurseries can help your ideas become reality. Seek reputable landscape maintenance companies to protectyour investment. Ask companies for references, samples of their work, and proof of professionalcertification or license.Choose Plants for Master Plan In designing your garden, choose plants that conform to the goals of the master plan. Be surethat plant selections are drought tolerant and well adapted to soil and sun conditions of the site. Groupplants with similar water and sunlight needs. Some areas of the landscape may require low to moderate tofull irrigation. Here are some suggestions to organize your landscape watering needs. Full irrigation areas are usually grass areas that require more water. Limit these areas to thosethat get a lot of use or are highly visible. Moderate irrigation areas include established plant and shrub beds that require little wateringas they can usually survive from natural rainfall. Those beds located around the perimeter of the homebenefit from roof runoff.
Low irrigation areas are often border areas containing low or moderate water-demandingplants. Shrubs and trees are best served by using drip irrigation so the plants roots receive water directly.Areas in the garden where supplemental water is unavailable also benefit from drip systems. Native and low-water use plants offer beautiful and colorful selections. Attractive perennials thatprovide year-around color and interest can replace costly annual plants. Wildflower plants, native grasses,and paved patios and walkways are popular and serve as good alternatives to traditional lawns. Considerthe proper placement of trees and other plants for shade, screening and defining outdoor space.Cool Shadings Standing under a tree on a hot day works just like wearing a straw hat to block out the suns rays.Trees provide impressive energy savings when properly located to shade homes/buildings and to createwind breaks during winter months. Mark your master plan with any existing trees and power lines andallow for growth. Define if additional trees and power lines and allow for growth. Decide if additionaltrees are needed on your plan. Identify the desired species, based on maximum height, branch spread andmaintenance required. Trees also clean the air by removing dust and carbon dioxide that may contributeto global warming. Trees not only improve property values, but also make the community greener. Theyprovide cover, protection for small animals and nesting sites and food for birds.Trees for Energy Planting trees on the west and southwest side of homes and buildings can create enough shade tolower roof and wall temperatures by up to 20 degrees. Shading an outside air-conditioning unit can helpsave up to 10% on summer cooling bills. Leave at least three feet around the unit to allow for air flow andservice access. A deciduous tree will create shade in the summer and allow sunlight through openbranches for warmth and light in the winter.Principle #1 Points Coveredü Start by envisioning the gardens appearance, function, maintenance level and water requirementsü Decide how much money you want to spend. Your project may be completed through a one-time investment or phased over several yearsü Choose to read, research and do-it-yourself or to hire a professionalü Sketch a plan identifying existing hardscape surfaces on property along with existing plants, trees, driveways, power lines, etcü Study your sites drainage problems, availability of water and soil typeü Decide how you want to use your yard (play areas, deck, vegetable gardens, compost bind, fence screen or wind breaks)ü Take advantage of tree shade for energy savings#2 SOIL ANALYSIS AND IMPROVEMENT While soil analysis and improvement is the second principle of Xeriscape landscaping,professionals believe that it is one of the most essential for any gardens success. Soil amendments help toimprove the physical structure of the soil either by loosening tightly compacted clay soil or by addingstructure to structureless sandy soil.Test the Soil Soil types vary from site to site and sometimes within a site. South Texas soils range from clayto sandy loam to sand. A soil analysis based on random sampling provides information that allows properselection of plants, soil amendments and fertilizers. Collect the soil sample and send it to a soil-testinglaboratory to determine the nutrient content, soil pH and other information. Contact the TexasAgricultural Extension Service - Nueces County office in Robstown at 361/767-5223 to receive a free
sample bag and instructions. For a nominal fee, your soil sample can be mailed to the Texas AgriculturalExtension Service Soil Laboratory in College Station for analysis.Improve the Soil with Amendments Most soil will benefit from adding organic matter. Organic matter includes such items as peatmoss, processed compost, composted cotton burr or manure. Soil amendments enhance the health andgrowing capability of the soil by improving water drainage, moisture penetration and water holdingcapacity. Compost, either made at home or purchased commercially is the best organic fertilizeravailable.Sample Soil Recipe Heres a good recipe for amending the soil for a 100 square foot area. Cover the area and thenthoroughly mix or till in the amendments to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. 4 inches of organic matter such as peat moss or compost 4 pounds of Ironite or equivalent product 25 pounds of composted manure If soil has high clay content, add 2 inches of coarse sand If soil has high sand content, add 2 inches of a high clay content soilPrinciple #2 Points Coveredü Test the soil to determine the type of soil amendments needed to support healthy plants and conserve moistureü Soil testing is available for a nominal fee by the Texas Agricultural Extension Serviceü Improve the soil with amendments to change the physical character of the soil by loosening tight compact clay soil or by creating structure in sandy soilü Follow the sample soil recipe by adding 4 inches of organic matter and mix to a depth of 10 to 12 inches.#3 APPROPRIATE PLANT SELECTIONWhat and Where to Plant Before planting, select and group you trees and shrubs based on their watering needs (i.e., low,moderate and high), desired effect, color, texture and mature size. Keep native plants in mind for theirhardiness and drought tolerance. Give trees and shrubs plenty of room to grow to avoid rubbing againstpower lines or intruding into the underground wastewater system which can result in the invasion of rootsto the wastewater drain lines. Identify plants on the master plant.How to Plant Plant soon after purchase to avoid unnecessary transplant shock. Dig planting holes two to threetimes the width of the original container. The hole should be the same depth as the rootball. Place theplant in the hole so the top of the root ball is even with the natural soil grade or slightly higher. Forexample, an oak tree would adapt to its location better if it is placed 3" higher than the soil grade ascompared to being planted 1/4" too low. Backfill the hole with a good soil mixture. Compress the filledmixture several times during backfilling to prevent air pockets. Water thoroughly and deeply afterplanting; cover the rootball and adjacent soil with a thick layer of organic mulch.Principle #3 Points Coveredü Group plant based on their watering needs (low, moderate, high)ü Give plants room to grow above and below groundü Place plants in holes two to three times the size of original container and at proper depthü Place plants in the ground while they are still fresh to avoid transplant shock
ü Backfill with good soil mixtureü Compress soil to prevent air pocketsü Water plants deeply after plantingü Place thick layer of organic mulch around plants and treesTREE PLANTING AND MAINTENANCE The ideal time for planting trees in Texas is November through March. Trees are dormantduring that period and the shock of transplanting is lower. Palms, however, are best planted in the heatof the summer during their growing season. Give trees adequate room to grow, both above ground and below. For energy conservation andshade purposes, plant deciduous trees on the southeast, southwest and west sides of the house or building. A trees survival depends on deep watering at planting time and about once a week duringsummer, especially during the first year. Apply water in the root zone area below the branches, not rightat the trunk. After the first or second year, a tree should be able to survive on natural rainfall unless thereis a drought. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) to give trees an extra boost during the early spring.Dont fertilize until new spring leaves are fully opened.#4 PRACTICAL TURF AREAS Grass requires or water and maintenance than any other part of the landscape. Mowing,fertilizing, and watering a lawn can take many hours of work each week. Consider the followingguidelines for Xeriscape lawns.Lawn Size and Location Limit lawn areas to an appropriate and practical size to decrease water and maintenance costs.Lawn areas are desirable for recreational sports and some pets. However, many lawns that exist primarilyfor visual beauty could be replaced with other attractive alternatives.Landscape Alternatives There are many attractive alternatives to planting traditional grass areas. Consider planting bedssuch as shrubs, perennials and ground covers that use less water and are able to maintain a greenappearance in a landscape. Mulch beds can be used in limited areas such as around driveways, pet andservice areas or paths to discourage weed growth and reduce evaporation and erosion. Additionally,decks, patios and walkways expand outdoor living areas and require less maintenance than lawns, andwatering a lawn can take many hours of work each week. Consider the following guidelines for Xeriscapelawns.Lawn Size and Location Limit lawn areas to an appropriate and practical size to decrease water and maintenance costs.Lawn areas are desirable for recreational sports and some pets. However, many lawns that exist primarilyfor visual beauty could be replaced with other attractive alternatives.Landscape Alternatives There are many attractive alternatives to planting traditional grass areas. Consider planting bedssuch as shrubs, perennials and ground covers that use less water and are able to maintain a greenappearance in a landscape. Mulch beds can be used in limited areas such as around driveways, pet andservice areas or paths to discourage weed growth and reduce evaporation and erosion. Additionally,decks, patios and walkways expand outdoor living areas and require less maintenance than lawns.Wildflowers and native grasses make excellent lawn substitutes in large open areas, natural stylelandscapes and low use areas.Choose the Best Grass
Grasses, which are drought tolerant, become dormant and turn brown when not watered.Drought tolerant lawns may not be green during a drought, but will survive and turn green after the nextrainfall or watering. You should consider the amount of sunlight and the intended use of the grass beforechoosing one of the four grasses listed on page 17. They are ranked from most drought tolerant to theleast drought tolerant.Warm Season Grasses Buffalo grass is a native prairie grass that reaches a maximum height of six to twelve inches andcan be left to grow naturally without mowing. Buffalo grass requires minimal irrigation, fertilization andpesticides resulting in lower maintenance costs. Buffalo grass requires a minimum of six hours of sun perday and may require one to two years to establish from seed. Prairie buffalo grass variety is a dense, fine-textured grass with low growth and excellent cold, heat and drought tolerance. The 609 buffalo grassvariety has the same characteristics as Prairie," but it maintains a darker blue-green color and, likeBermuda grass, has limited shade tolerance. Both Prairie and 609 are available in sod, sprigs or plugs.Watch for improved varieties to enter the market such as the new Stampede semi-dwarf buffalo grass. Bermuda grass is the most commonly used drought tolerant grass in Texas. It is available as seedor sod and requires full sun. Look for hybrid species such as Tifway and "Tifdwarf", that are available insod, sprigs and plugs. The hybrids are not as drought tolerant as seeded common Bermuda grass. Zoysia grass is a slow growing grass for full sun to partial shade. It is available in sod. Look forEmerald or Meyer varieties, or the new El Toro or ZoyBoy selections. Zoysia grasses are less droughttolerant than buffalo or Bermuda grasses. St. Augustine grass is best for use in shady spots. It is available as sod or plugs. When grown infull sun, it has the highest water need of the grasses listed here.TIP What makes a turf more drought tolerant? In general, the deeper a grasss roots, the moredrought tolerant it will be as it seeks for moisture in deeper levels of the soil. Typically, lawns are keptfrom reaching their potential root depth due to poor irrigation and mowing practices. Watering lessfrequently but thoroughly promotes deeper rooting and improves drought tolerance. Grass Root Depth Buffalo 5 - 7 feet Bermuda to 5 feet Zoysia to 5 feet St. Augustine 8 - 18 inches Review Xeriscape Principle No. 7 where proper maintenance of lawns is features. Principle #4 Points Covered ü Limit lawn areas to reduce water use and maintenance ü Consider drought tolerant turf ü Use landscape alternatives to reduce water use, i.e., shrubs, perennials and ground cover#5 EFFICIENT IRRIGATIONWhen to Water Landscape irrigation should only be used to supplement rainfall when necessary to promote planthealth and vigor. If water conservation is your goal, then you may want to rethink your watering policy.You may decide to do little or no supplemental watering after your Xeriscape landscape has becomeestablished. Once established, plants can survive on natural rainfall except during a drought. The besttime to water plants is when it is needed. Learn to recognize the signals of a thirsty landscape. Shrubs
will begin to droop and grass will lie flat and leave footprint impressions. Irrigation should be scheduledduring the coolest, calmest part of the day to avoid loss through evaporation and wind drift. Overwatering and nighttime watering may promote problems such as brown patch on St. Augustine lawns ormildew on plants. The early morning hours just before and after dawn are best. Avoid watering between10 a.m. and 6 p.m.How to Water Shallow daily watering can harm plants. Water deeply and infrequently. Deep, more droughttolerant root systems will develop from a weekly deep soaking. Wet the soil to a depth of five or sixinches, and allow it to dry out between wateriness. Dig down deep to check soil measure.How Much to Water During the growing season, traditional landscapes may use as much as one inch or more of waterper week. It will vary depending on soil, sun, weather, plant type and conditions. Several short, repeatedwatering cycles may be necessary to avoid runoff on hills or on clay soils. Watering can taper off whenautumn arrives and gradually increase during spring. Plants dont need as much water in the winter, butwill benefit from occasional irrigation if there is no rainfall.Irrigation Equipment The most efficient hose-end sprinklers throw large drops of water, not a mist, close to the ground.Avoid sprinklers that throw water high into the air before it gets to the plant. Soaker hoses areinexpensive, easy to install and ideal for planting beds. Install the hose on top of the soil, underneath themulch. For underground sprinkler systems, low-volume low-angle spray heads, pressure compensatingdevices and bubblers can increase efficiency.Drip Irrigation Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of watering trees and shrubs. It applies water slowlyto the soil directly surrounding the plants roots. With proper scheduling, drip irrigation maintains aconstant level of the soils moisture, leading to healthier plants. Drip irrigation gives a precise amount ofwater to specific plants at a slow rate and controls water runoff. By contrast, pop-up spray systems canwaste water with too much spray or when spray evaporates before reaching the plants. Drip irrigationmay save up to 60% of the water required by other methods of irrigation for home gardens and residentiallandscapes. Drip irrigation eliminates plant stress and drought shock by applying water directly to the plantroot zone where the water is readily absorbed and used. Since less surface is watered, weed growth islimited. Plant disease and fungus associated with spraying water onto foliage is minimized due to applythe water at the soil level. Drip irrigation systems are simple to install and modify. System components include emittersthat provide an outlet for the water. The better types are self-flushing and compensate for high pressure.Drip systems are polyethylene tubing (black, flexible material) anchored at the soil surface and coveredwith a layer of mulch. Installation is less labor intensive since less trenching for underground piping isrequired. Some tubing can be purchased with emitters installed at certain intervals, while other types oftubing allow customization, installing emitters only where needed. Compression fittings are mostcommonly used for drip irrigation; no gluing or priming is required. Drip irrigation systems can beattached to a garden spigot or a permanent underground irrigation system. Although drip irrigation is notwell adapted to turf areas, it will efficiently water gardens, shrubs, groundcover, trees and otherlandscaping. A backflow prevention device is required for all irrigation systems permanently connected to adrinking water supply line. Backflow prevention devices prevent potential hazardous contamination ofthe drinking water supply, thus protecting your own drinking water.Drip Irrigation Ordinance
In June 1997, Corpus Christis Plumbing Code was amended to require all new irrigation systemsto use drip emitters or soaker type hoses instead of spray heads in right-of-way areas located between thesidewalk and curb or within narrow strips of vegetation or median.Automatic Timers For any outdoor faucet, a water time can be installed to monitor an irrigation system. Barryoperated timers turn the sprinkler on and off automatically. Larger systems are best served with electroniccontrollers that feature 14 or 15 day calendars, independent zone programming and multi-cycling. Rainshut-off devices are inexpensive and will prevent unnecessary irrigation during rainy weather. Soilmoisture sensors will prevent watering when the soil moisture level is adequate.Irrigation Design The type of irrigation equipment used depends on the design, layout and type of landscape. Asimple garden hose and sprinkler may be the best way to water some landscapes. Drip or undergroundpop-up systems can be more appropriate for other types of landscapes. Watering can be made easier by grouping or zoning plants with similar water needs. The highestwater use zone should be located near the house. The lowest water use zone, such as a wildflower patch,might be at the far edges of a lot. Each zone can be watered according to its needs. Long narrow areas ofgrass are best watered with soaker hoses or drip emitters.Irrigation Installation In Texas, irrigation installers and designers are tested and licensed by the state. Ask for alicensed irrigator when seeking professional help. Ask for references and be sure to check them. Insist ona one-year warranty on the system including parts and labor.Test Your Sprinkler To set up a schedule of deep watering every five to seven days, first find out how much water thesprinkler applies.A. Place 3 to 5 empty tuna cans at different distances from the sprinkler.B. Run the sprinkler for 30 minutes.C. Add the inches of water in all cans and divide the total inches by the number of cans to obtain an average.D. Total water (inches) collected in cans ______" __________ " = Average amount of water (inches) applied to lawn Divided by Total Number of cans used to collect water ______"E. ______" Average water applied to X2 = ___________ " lawn Water (inches) applied to lawn in one hour *
* Use this figure to determine how long to water to get one inch per watering. Subtract the amount of rainfall received during the week from the amount of irrigation.Equipment Maintenance Routine maintenance of irrigation equipment should be scheduled at least twice a year.Underground leak can be detected and verified by examining the water meter when water is not in use.Principle #5 Points Coveredü Once established, Xeriscape gardens can usually survive on natural rainfall, except in times of drought.ü Plants and lawns benefit from deep and infrequent watering.ü Check soil moisture before wateringü Traditional landscapes may require one inch or more of water during warm seasonsü Use efficient hose-end sprinklers that spray large drops of waterü Use soaker hoses for planting beds and narrow turf areasü Observe City ordinance that requires newly installed irrigation systems to use drip emitters or soaker hoses between sidewalk and curb or within narrow strips of medianü Test automatic sprinkler systems for efficiencyü Seek professional help from licensed irrigation installers/designers#6 USE OF MULCHES The use of mulches is essential to reduce weed growth, control soil water loss and erosion andhelp to moderate soil temperatures. It will also give your garden a finished look. When plants are leftuncovered, summer soil temperatures can be as high as 90 degrees, causing the roots to die. To protectyour plants, and trees, apply a three to four inch layer of mulch; however, avoid under mulching or overmulching. Under mulching may not control weed growth, while over mulching may reduce thepenetration of oxygen and water to the soil. While profession landscapers prefer to use organic mulches,you can choose from organic or inorganic mulches shown below. Organic Mulches * Inorganic Mulches Low Heat Radiation Medium Heat Radiation High Heat RadiationPine Bank Bark Lava Rock - Red/Gray Nueces River RockShredded Cypress Bark Crushed LimestoneLocal Landfill Mulch Granite GravelPine Needles Pea GravelShredded Landscape Clippings* Keep in mind that organic mulches decompose over a period of time and need to be reapplied. Inorganic mulches, such as gravel or crushed stone, should be used in limited, unplanted areas.Be aware that stone mulches can increase heat retention and reflect heat and sun flare, increasing yourhomes energy costs.Principle #6 Points Coveredü Apply mulch to moderate the soils temperature and water loss, and to control erosion and weed growthü Apply 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch around trees and planting bedsü Inorganic (stone) mulches reflect more heat resulting in higher energy costs#7 APPROPRIATE MAINTENANCE
Maintenance of gardens can be broken into five tasks: weeding, feeding, pruning (includingmowing), pest control and watering. While these tasks are interrelated, youll have less weeding andpruning if you keep watering to a minimum.Pruning and Mowing The growth of plant and grass can be vigorously stimulated with frequent pruning and mowing.It is best to know the plants mature size before it is planted. When pruning is essential, it should be donein later winter or early spring before new leaves appear. The use of shorter-growing grasses can reducemaintenance and watering. While traditional South Texas lawns are accustomed to being manicured,alternative sods require less water and maintenance. Mowing is one of the most time-consuming maintenance tasks. Proper mowing heights can helpuse less water. Grass cut too short is stressed and dries out quickly. Instead, mow the grass when it isabout 1/3 higher than the recommended mowing height. Grass clippings can be left where they fall torecycle nutrients into the soil. If clippings are collected, dont put them out with the trash. Instead,compost the clippings along with other organic waste to create soil amendments or mulch.Recommended Mowing HeightsBermuda 1 inch St. Augustine 3 inchesBuffalo Grass 2 inches Zoysia 1 inchWeed and Pest Control The use of herbicides and pesticides needs to be balanced with both human health andenvironmental concerns. The use of chemical products in a garden should be avoided or used sparingly.The use of chemical products can result in pollution runoff draining into nearby storm drains thateventually lead to our lakes, bays and ocean. Of the hundreds of thousands of insects that exist in thisarea, no more than 5% of them ever reach a problem level and many are essential for pollination. Lowlevels of a pest arent necessarily detrimental to plants. Chemical use at the first site of a few bugs risksupsetting the balance of nature by also killing off beneficial predators. Treat only if damage reaches acritical level. Biological pest controls such as lady-bugs, lacewings, praying mantids and Bacillus thuringiensisand horticultural controls, such as mulching for weed control in landscaped areas, are highlyrecommended over chemical applications, especially along sensitive waterways. Before chemicalapplications are considered, organic pest control such as insecticidal soaps and manual weed pullingshould be used.Fertilizers Many native plants do not need fertilizer since they are adapted to natural soil conditions. Otherplants, such as turf grass, may need additional nutrients for healthy growth. Leaving lawn clippings onthe grass instead of bagging, will enrich the soil and reduce the need for fertilizer. If necessary, fertilize grass once in spring after the second or third mowing and again in earlyfall. Excessive fertilizer can damage plants, waste money and increase maintenance. Use a slow-releasenitrogen encapsulated fertilizer to avoid fertilizer "burn," and do not fertilize during hot weather.Contrary to popular belief, DO NOT fertilize immediately before rain is expected. A heavy rain willwash away the valuable nutrients before they reach the soil level. Water thoroughly after applyingfertilizer, being careful not to let the fertilizer and water run off your yard. Too much fertilizer can harmthe environment when the nutrients are washed into storm drains, resulting in possible algae blooms andmassive fish kills in area waterways.Principle #7 Points Coveredü Prune shrubs and trees during late winter or early spring before new growth occursü Mow turf at proper heightü Avoid bagging grass clippingsü Avoid or limit the use of herbicides and pesticides
ü Consider organic pest control and manual weed pullingü Fertilize grass once in spring and again in early fallü Do not fertilize before rain is expectedNEW CONSTRUCTION Protect existing trees on a construction site to add value and prevent additional landscaping costs.A mature landscape takes many years to establish. Build tree protection fences under the outermostbranches. Never allow storage of heavy equipment and machinery in these areas, as it will compact thesoil and damage tree roots. Never dump paints or solvents near trees. The topsoil is a valuable resource to preserve and protect. If topsoil is stripped duringconstruction, stockpile it for reuse on the site. If topsoil must be imported, be use it is of high quality andappropriate for the intended use. Never allow bare topsoil to wash off the site, which causes storm drainlines to clog, often causing street flooding. After construction, cover all exposed soil with sod, jutenetting, landscaping fabric and/or mulch. In Corpus Christi, new construction sites of one-fourth acre ormore are required to place erosion control devices to prevent soil loss. Increased storm water runoff is a problem in urban areas, as impervious surfaces do not allowrainfall to soak into the ground. These impervious surfaces include roofs, driveways, and sidewalks.Materials that may replace traditional paved driveways, parking areas, patios and walks include brick onsand and interlocking pavers. The impact of runoff can be reduced and the water can be infiltrate the soilwith the use of grass drainage swales channeled into planting beds, vegetative buffers around paved areasand on-site detention and retention ponds. A drainage swale is a shallow depression or channel (not aditch) designed to move water across a site. Some cities require on-site detention and retention ponds forcommercial structures. These ponds allow storm water to filtrate naturally into the soil and also reducethe amount of sediment entering the storm water drainage system, thus reducing non-point sourcepollution.