What a year 2011 was for climatologic events; below average rainfall, extremely hot summer temperatures and Lake Texoma’s water becoming unusable due to the presence of Zebra Mussels.
All of these factors contributed to local municipalities implementing water conservation measures. Though rainfall has been above average for the beginning of 2012, most cities will continue with water conservation plans till the beginning of summer.
What can you, should you; will you do in light of this? SmartScape your garden!
SmartScaping doesn’t mean re-doing your entire garden, but it does involve making plans to help conserve outdoor water.
So here are FOUR things to consider and make plans to do:
1. MULCH, MULCH, and then MULCH some more!
This is one of THE most IMPORTANT steps you can take to reduce your water bill and increase the survival rate of your plants.both of which will more than offset the cost of the mulching.
Mulch is to soil as clothing is to your body. It helps regulate temperatures, aids in moisture retention, protects from extreme temperatures and looks nice!
Two to four inches of mulch is what is necessary to do the job.
The first year you lay down an adequate layer of mulch, you will probably have to add to the layer in each of the following two seasons due to settling and the beginning of decay. After that, the rate of decay will slow and you will be adding mulch once a year. The decaying mulch provides the additional benefit of adding nutrients to the soil, which in turn will feed the plants.
A good layer of mulch is like a central heat and air system for your soil. The temperatures are moderated (cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter) by this layer. Mulch also helps to keep a more consistent moisture level in the soil avoiding that hard baked cracking look that you will get in your non-mulched areas.
Some additional benefits are reducing weed germination, decreased soil erosion and compaction, and a decrease in spreading diseases since the mulch prevents the splashing of water from the soil onto the plants.
More landscapes are damaged by over watering than under watering. Deep and infrequent watering is the most beneficial for your plants and turf. This will encourage deep root growth allowing your plants to thrive in hot summers as well as cold winters. Since your landscape water is the same water that you use to drink let’s look at opportunities to conserve water with efficient irrigation.
Check, repair and replace:
If you irrigation system is not working properly, you are wasting water. March is a great time to check for broken pipes, clogged heads, valve leaks (the grass will be greener), misaligned heads, or water spraying onto hard surfaces. Check your City’s website to see if they offer a free irrigation “check up” to help you conserve water.
You can also replace your old controller with a new “smart controller” that uses moisture sensors to determine run times. Adding a “Rain/Freeze” sensor will prevent you from watering while it is raining. And finally, you can convert your current system to drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is 90% efficient compared to a 65% efficiency in spray irrigation. Imagine the savings in your water bill.
Soak and Cycle:
Some irrigation systems apply water faster than the ground can absorb it. This is especially true in lawn areas, as mulched areas can absorb water more efficiently. To avoid “run-off” you may need to run several stations in numerous short intervals as opposed to one long one. Wait 20 30 minutes between cycles. Always water after 6:00 pm and before 10:00 am.
Leave your grass taller to create “shade” which will allow more moisture to be held in the soil and protect the roots from the heat. You will have to mow more frequently but your lawn will look great even within water conservation measures.
Our North Texas clay soil becomes compacted over time preventing water from penetrating into the soil. To allow water and oxygen into the soil for healthy root systems, aerate your lawn in the spring and add of compost.
For help with executing any of the above 4 items, please give Gardens for Texas a call today!
Reference: PRLog: 11929703.