Xeriscaping: Water-Wise Landscaping
Xeriscape elements include rock, stone and resilient native plants.
Xeriscaping is landscaping that conserves water and protects the environment. The term has been used since 1978 and follows seven time-tested principles. You can save water and money by following what landscaping and water industry professionals throughout the nation have embraced for decades.
Read on for Xeriscaping tips from the Texas Agricultural Extension Service:
Designing Your Landscape
Start with a sketch of your existing yard. Consider your budget, appearance, function, maintenance and water requirements. Consult local landscape architects, designers, nurserymen and county extension agents. Implementing your landscape design can be done gradually over several years. Long, narrow areas and small, odd-shaped areas are difficult for any irrigation equipment to efficiently water.
Knowing Your Soil
Better water absorption and improved water-holding capacity can result if you know whether soil improvement is needed. A soil test can provide homeowners with information to make wise choices regarding which type of soil amendments and fertilizers they need for a healthy land- scape. Soil sample bags and information sheets are available at McKinney’s AgriLife Extension office (825 N. McDonald St., Ste. 140).
Carefully select grass according to its intended use, planting location and maintenance requirements. St. Augustine grass and Bermuda grass are most often used for lawns in Texas. Planting the lowest-water-use turfgrass adapted to the region will reduce landscape irrigation requirements.
- Reduce the size of water-sensitive lawns through the use of patios, decks, shrub beds and groundcovers.
- Mowing grass at the proper height con serves water. Mow St. Augustine grass at three inches; for Bermuda grass mow at one and a half inch.
- Fertilize your lawn once in the spring and again in the fall to produce a beautiful turf without excess growth, which demands frequent watering.
Texas is blessed with an abundance of beautiful native plants that are naturally adapted to the region. Most have lower water demands, fewer pest problems and less fertilizer needs than many non- adapted, exotic plants brought into Texas landscapes. Check with your local nursery or county Extension agent for recommendations on adapted landscape plants for your area. (Collin County is Zone 8a.)
How to Water
Most people overwater. It is bad for your landscape, a drain on our water supply and detrimental to the environment. The greatest waste of water is applying too much, too often. An established lawn only needs one inch of water each week. If we get rain, don’t water! This creates a deep, well-rooted lawn that efficiently uses water stored in the soil.
A moisture meter or a soil probe will help you regulate your irrigation system. Always keep your irrigation system set on manual mode. Only put it on automatic if you are going away a week or longer and rain is not forecasted. By zoning an irrigation system, grass areas can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs and trees.
If you have a permanent sprinkler system, make sure the sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.
Seeking professional irrigation advice and experimenting with available drip irrigation products in small sections of the landscape are the best ways to become familiar with the many benefits of this watering technique.
The feeding root system of a tree or shrub is located within the top 12 inches of the soil and at the “dripline” of the plant. The dripline is the area directly below the outermost reaches of the branches. Apply water and fertilizer just inside and a little beyond the dripline, not at the trunk.
Mulch is Your Friend
Mulch conserves water by reducing moisture evaporation and increases water penetration. Mulch also reduces weed growth and moderates the soil temperature.
It is important to periodically check that your irrigation system is well-maintained. Also, pruning, weeding, fertilization and pest control all conserve water.
Need help getting started?
Contact the Collin County Master Gardeners Association (ccmgatx.org), the City of McKinney's arborist (mckinneytexas.org) or one of our chamber members that provide landscaping services:
ABCO LAWN CARE & MAINTENANCE
BELL MOWING & LANDSCAPING
CLEAN AIR LAWN CARE
GREEN-GO LAWN SERVICE
HAYNES LANDSCAPE & MAINTENANCE, INC.
LANARC DESIGN INC.
LANDSCAPES, LAWNS, & BEYOND LLC
LAWNS, BORDERS AND LANDSCAPES
THE OTHER SIDE LANDSCAPING
SOUTHERNWIND POOLS, INC.
WEISZ SELECTION LAWN & LANDSCAPE, INC.