Reducing Water Use in your Austin Garden & Lawn

Tips for Drought Tolerant Austin Lawns & Gardens

There are numerous strategies for conserving water in the garden. These include careful watering, using drought-tolerant plants, and re-using water.

Adequate water is crucial to the health and well being of all plants. Yet water is a precious resource and cannot be wasted. There are several ways to conserve water using techniques that minimize water use, recycle domestic water, and planting flowers and lawns that require less water to thrive.

Techniques that Conserve Water

To reduce waste, try the following strategies:

  • Check the sprinkler to be sure that it is only watering the lawn or garden, not the sidewalk or driveway.
  • Water plants in the early morning or evening when it is cool to lessen evaporation. Watering in the morning will also give plants a chance to dry off thus preventing mold or mildew.
  • Don’t run the irrigation or water system when it is raining.
  • Take care on windy days not to have the water blow away from where it is needed.
  • Plant flowers and vegetables in the same bed to conserve watering. According to an article published by the Oregon State University Extension Office (1992) on water conservation, gardeners should consider planting vegetables and flowers in a common bed. The Extension Office reports that the watering schedule for food crops will be the same or close to that of many flowering plants.
  • Mulching is another strategy for reducing water usage in the garden. Mulch can either be organic (i.e. grass clippings, hay, bark, etc) or inorganic (plastic or rock). Putting down a layer of mulch reduces weed growth and holds in moisture. Weeds compete with garden plants for water. Reducing their access to water conserves moisture for those plants that a gardener is trying to support. Another benefit from mulching is that as it decomposes it adds nutrients and keeps the soil loose. Inorganic material will last a long time but may prove difficult to remove if your gardening plans change.

Collecting Rain Water and Other Strategies

Gardeners can use rain barrels or other containers to collect rainwater. It is important to use a rain barrel that can be closed to prevent mosquitoes from gathering.

Gray water or household wastewater from kitchen sinks, tubs, washers, etc can be used to water plants. According to the EPA, the City of St. Petersburg, Florida has established an urban dual distribution system for reclaimed water for nonpotable uses that serves more than 7,000 homes and companies. Before rushing out and using water from the tub, gardeners should check their local ordinances to be sure that using gray water is permissible.

Plant Selection

  • Xeriscaping involves the use of drought-tolerant plants in landscaping. Some plants that fall in this category (other than just cacti or succulents) include Rocky Mountain Zinnia, lavender, rosemary, grasses such as crested wheatgrass, common blue fescue.
  • It is important to use containers sparingly as they require more frequent watering. The soil in containers tends to dry out more quickly as compared to garden plots because pots do not have the benefit from layers of dirt and mulch to seal in moisture.

There are many ways to use water wisely in the garden. Gardeners can collect or re-use water, water judiciously and rely on plants that do not require a lot of moisture to thrive.

Three Drought Tolerant Grass Alternatives

Looking for a drought-tolerant alternative to that water-sucking green yard? Try these tips to change your yard and save on water.

In today’s environmentally-minded world, many homeowners are seeking new and innovative drought-tolerant alternatives to grass. Drought-tolerant grass alternatives give the curb appeal of having a nicely manicured yard while still allowing for little-to-no water maintenance. If you are in the same boat as most homeowners, you may be surprised to hear the many different aesthetically pleasing alternatives to grass.

Ground Cover

Ground cover has been a widely used and affordable alternative to grass for decades. There are so many different types of ground cover and most need very little maintenance and grow quickly. Some choices include low-growing herbs, perennials, and clover.

Ground cover will require some edging, so you may need to look at the brick, stone, and wood edging. However, once the ground cover is planted and edged it requires very little maintenance; most ground cover will spread rapidly and choke out any weeds. The best part, ground cover only needs excessive moisture in the seeding stage, once it has established itself in your yard it will need very little watering, and will re-seed itself.

Xeriscape

Another very popular trend in drought-tolerant grass alternatives is Xeriscape. Xeriscape is commonly associated with desert-scaping and is most commonly used with numerous Cacti plants, rocks, succulents, and ornamental grass. Xeriscape is all about conserving water, and while it does require some water it is actually the most drought-tolerant natural alternative to grass. It is also possible to use more traditional flowers in Xeriscaping; homeowners just need to research the types of water usage and sun the plants require. Try choosing plants that grow more naturally in your area for instance wildflowers, perennials, and vines.

Synthetic Grass

Finally, there are a number of synthetic grasses available now at stores all over the country. These alternatives require no watering and still give the pleasant aesthetic of an evergreen lawn. Synthetic grass may conjure images of horrifying miniature golf courses for some homeowners, tacky and uncomfortable turf, but in today’s market, they have been perfected and come in various colors just like real grass.

In the past, synthetic grass has been expensive, but with popularity and necessity, they have been mass-produced and are available to the common homeowner. Some popular brands are SYNlawn, Hometurf, Eco-Lush, and Astrolawn.

Now homeowners are not oppressed by their green lush lawns. There are many drought-tolerant grass alternatives available for any home and any landscaping style. So enjoy a beautiful yard, without fear of water restriction!

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