5 Easy Steps to Conserve Water in the Texas Landscape.
Central Texas and Austin in particular is growing by leaps and bounds. This constant influx of people has a huge impact on our water source and it is everyones responsibility to conserve whenever possible. This doesn’t mean you install a yard full of rocks and cacti. If you are looking to conserve water in your yard with the least amount of effort I have laid out these 5 easy steps for you to follow.
The photo below is my previous yard and I never used a single chemical in 9 years. There is no irrigation, only rain barrels and hand watering. I had 10 fruit trees, blackberries, raspberries, food everywhere, herbs, flowers and interest in every season.
1) Reduce lawn and replace it with low water landscape such as native and adapted plants. Native plants are used to the Central Texas landscape and the drought conditions in general which mean long periods of dry followed by monsoon. Plant your trees, shrubs and perennial plants with enough room to grow. Proper placement is key to the success of a mature garden as well as controlling maintenance and disease issues later on. Nobody wants a landscape that eventually turns into a blob.
2) Add feature and functionality with river rock or stone paths to lead you to the next space or seating area. One of the worst design mistakes you can make is to seclude your living space to one area. No matter how small your space is you can always create different vantage points which carry you through the space making it feel larger. This always creates areas with pervious (water can soak through) and impervious (cannot penetrate, such as concrete or stone) cover so be sure you are up to code in the city limit or you could be in trouble later. Loose material like river rock, granite, mulch or gravel and pavers can be a great alternative for water absorption in an area that requires no water to look good.
3) Create larger existing beds and seating areas. Simple as that, increase your existing bed size by a coupler few feet. Most older homes have overgrown beds anyway so why not embrace it and add some depth. Throw some low plantings in front, clean up and mulch and the whole bed and call it a day. Another great option is to lose the overgrown front shrubs that are eating the house and replacing them with a very simple low profile garden with step stones to take up space. Feature and functionality. Updated, low water, low maintenance and a very easy do-it-yourself project.
4) Rain barrels are an easy way to conserve water on your own property and you will be amazed by how quickly they fill up even in our Texas droughts. A 2000 sq ft house can collect as much as 30,000 gallons a year. No matter how you do that math, free is free all day and the barrels pay for themselves the first season. Many cities have rebates and free barrels, all they require to work are gutters on your house. There are tons of how-to YouTube videos on set up and general maintenance which is basically nothing at all. Plants prefer rain water always to city water and it is comforting to know you always have a back up just in case. Just be sure your barrel has never been used for chemicals of any kind.
5) I definitely saved the best tip for last…ORGANIC ALL THE WAY IN EVERY WAY! This means you ditch the blue stuff, swear to never use “Weed and Feed”again, and make “Round Up’ the nasty words that they are, then you are well on your way.
Compost your entire property including lawn, beds and trees each spring. Mulch your beds each fall and fertilize with corn meal, corn gluten, molasses, liquid seaweed and rock minerals like green sand, granite sand and lava sand. Mixing these dry products together at the right time of year can be used on your lawn for an organic weed and feed and recipes can be found all over the internet. Purchase ladybugs, praying mantis or Trichogramma wasps and beneficial nematodes as your organic allies. Learn about companion planting. For every single problem there is an organic solution. Chemicals kill your soil, can kill your plants and harm our planet. Why make bad choices when we don’t have to? This also includes mulch. Make sure you have a nice depth of mulch to hold in moisture and keep soil temperatures at a safe place for frugal growth. Never used chemical treated or colored mulch. Only native shredded mulch like hardwood or local shredded Cedar will do.
Compost removes previous chemical damage, retains more water in the soil and feeds the healthy bacteria and beneficial fungi your plants need for success. Chemical fertilizers kill the soil, make the plant reliant on you for food, need more water and are more vulnerable to pests and disease. Think of the forest and the natural break down of materials. Compost can save the world.
For more great information on conservation and water saving plant selections please contact me for a landscape consultation or garden coach session in the Austin and surrounding area at 512-733-7777 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa’s Landscape & Design (check me out on Facebook)
“Saving the Planet One Yard at a Time”