Four Ways to Create Water-Wise Landscaping

 2011 is turning out to be a dry year for Texas – dangerously so, as the worst drought in a half-century is causing wildfires to rage across much of the state. But even an average year of Texas heat is enough to cause water shortages, and keeping your home landscaping looking bright and beautiful can break the bank.

But as many in the San Antonio area are discovering, the expense isn't necessarily worth it. In many cases, a natural Hill Country landscape is the healthy, stealthy, and water-wise way to beautify your home, save extra cash, and make your home stand out even as it fits in. And we have four easy ways you can pull it off:

Tame Your Turf

We might as well get this one out of the way, since it requires an unpleasant truth. Everyone loves a thick, green carpet of grass in the front of their home, but turf grass is one of the thirstiest plants you can find. It's best to limit how much grass you install, or if you're more daring, try eliminating it altogether. Can't give up grass? Try planting Zoysia or buffalograss, which are drought-resistant grasses suited to South Texas (McMillin homeowners, we use only grasses approved by the San Antonio Water System.

Plant Trees and Groundcover

We all know about the first one; trees provide shade, reducing air and soil temperatures, thus reducing the amount of moisture needed for plants underneath. But we often forget that basic groundcover plants, such as ivy, lantana, and monkey grass, can help beautify while cutting down on your water use. Plus, more groundcover means less grass to mow, and that's priceless in a September swelter.

Mulch, Mulch More

Mulch often is used for decorative purposes, but judicious use serves several water-wise purposes. Mulch keeps soil moist and temperatures even, increasing water penetration and retention. Better yet, it comes in a variety of styles, colors, and textures to complement the types of plants in your yard and your personal style. Just remember that mulch doesn't last forever; over time, it breaks down or blows away, so you need to add mulch as time goes by.

Water Wisely

Pretty much everyone in the Hill Country has seen someone watering their lawn at 3 p.m. in the middle of August. Not only is that an invitation for heat stroke, it's wasteful; it's best to water your lawn and plants at night, when you'll lose the least amount of water to evaporation. While you're at it, make sure your hitting your target and not over spraying or allowing runoff. Install an irrigation system in your lawn and use drip irrigation equipment to keep your container plants hydrated. Those tips will help get you started in creating a water-wise landscape, and this list of plants approved by SAWS for water rebates can help you save even more. Looking for more water conservation techniques? Try out our three simple tips for conserving water.

Tagged in : Green Living