If another hot, dry summer has wreaked havoc with your landscape, consider these seven principles of Xeriscape – the comprehensive approach to landscaping for water conservation.
- Good design works with, not against site characteristics like sun, shade, dry slopes, and low spots that collect water.
- Soil analysis can tell you what amendments will help your soil hold water or drain more quickly where needed. (Call your Extension Office for soil test information.)
- The right turf in the right place can make a big difference. “Just a lawn” is one of the most water- and labor-intensive landscapes choices. Use the right grass for your conditions and, better yet, replace some lawn with appropriate ground covers (i.e., sun or shade) or low-maintenance ornamentals.
- The right plants are natives or those adapted for our area. They’ve proven they can thrive in our hot summers and mild winters. For plant ideas in the northeast Texas area, visit the IDEA Garden and Heritage Garden at the Tyler Rose Center, and ask local nurseries for suggestions.
- Water efficiently – infrequently but deeply, on an as-needed basis. And water just before or after dawn so you’ll lose less to evaporation.
- Mulch! A 3-4 inch blanket of pine needles, leaves, or shredded bark retains moisture and keeps soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
- Good garden maintenance, including pruning and pest control, minimizes stress on your plants so they’ll need less water, fertilizer and chemicals.
Judy Heinrich, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service