Outdoor watering can account for 50 to 80 percent of home water use in the spring and summer. This may be wasted through poor choice of plant materials and inefficient landscape watering practices, including runoff.
By transitioning to a waterwise landscape, you can reduce your daily water use and lower your monthly water bill while creating an outdoor oasis. Here are some steps to help you transform your lawn into a waterwise landscape.
Create a master landscape plan for reference. Consider your site’s daily sun exposure and soil drainage. Group plants based on water and sunlight requirements.
- Texas SmartScape Landscape Design Planner: txsmartscape.com
2. Soil Health
Get your soil tested and amend it accordingly. All soils will benefit from the addition of organic matter. This will increase the soil’s aeration and ability to absorb and store water. Till in four to six inches of fully composted organic material each time you replant annual beds.
- Texas A&M Soil Testing: soiltesting.tamu.edu
3. Turf Grass
Most turf grasses require about one inch of water or more per week to survive, so choose a low water use variety of grass, like buffalo grass or bermuda grass. Maintain your turf to increase its water efficiency. Mow at the correct height, fertilize and extract weeds. Consider replacing some of the turf grass in your landscape with flower beds filled with native or drought tolerant plants.
Water in the morning or evening to avoid evaporation and wind drift. Check your system often to ensure all spray heads are working and that your system is not creating runoff. Turn your system off during wet weather or freezing temperatures. For flower beds, use drip irrigation or soaker hoses where appropriate. Consider collecting rainwater for use in your flower beds.Landscape Irrigation Cycling Quick Guide Landscape Irrigation Efficiency Preventing Runoff with Cycle & Soak Irrigation
5. Plant Selection
Consult your landscape plan, and choose plants based on the area where they will be planted. Native or adaptive plants usually require less water and maintenance. Check the cold hardiness of the plants you are considering. Not all Texas native plants will withstand our cold winters.
Mulch helps reduce the amount of moisture evaporated from the soil, reduces annual weed populations, prevents soil compaction, and moderates soil temperatures. Maintain a three to four-inch layer of mulch year-round. Use organic mulches like compost, straw, or wood chips. As these deteriorate, they will add organic matter to the soil.
Keep weed populations at bay; they compete for water and sunlight. Take care of diseases and pests, as they can inhibit a plant’s ability to intake water. Healthy plants use water more efficiently, so fertilize turf grass and other plants. Water your plants deeply and less frequently to encourage healthy root systems. Replenish mulch in the fall and spring.