Wednesday, June 21, 2006

News about watering

This morning I attended a breakfast hosted by North Texas Municipal Water District and partners Dallas Irrigators Association and Texas Nursery & Landscape Association. Representatives from local municipalities were present, as were landscape contractors and irrigators, among others. The focus of this meeting was to educate our industry reps about watering restrictions outlined in various 'stages' of drought contingency plans. Our job, then, is to educate you, the homeowners and businesses -- we're all in this together.

Currently North Texas is in Stage 3. Lake Lavon -- our water source -- has receded more than 10 feet. TEN FEET. Cooper and Texoma are low, as well. MOST of our water consumption occurs in lawn and landscape areas. The good thing is, if each of us were to make 'water-wise' choices in those areas we CAN affect change. Empowered, each of us has the ability -- some might say the obiligation -- to protect our natural resources and the overall health of our communities. And if you are reading this, you are already on board. Whether you're here because you want a low-maintenance landscape, to save money spent watering and maintaining a 'traditional' landscape, or you're an eco-minded person interested in leaving only a light footprint, you've come to our 'site with a bit of knowledge about these issues.

However, if you're new to this approach, here are a few suggestions to help you help your lawn and landscape survive the drought:
  1. Visit Take the quiz!
  2. Apply 4-6 inches of mulch (previously we recommended 2-3" but the rules of the game have changed, therefore so should our recommendations.) We recommend fine shredded hardwood mulch because it feeds the soil, retains enough moisture for the plants, but not enough to become a termite buffet.
  3. Hand-water all plants that are less than 1-year-old, especially trees, shrubs and other large plants. Check the soil first by inserting your index and middle fingers 3" deep. Dry? Hand-water 20-30 seconds at the base of the plant. Wet? Skip a day (or more). Only water when it's dry.
  4. Manually run your irrigation system once-per-week, approximately 20 minutes (or 1"). Ideally, you would run it only 10 minutes-per-day, twice-per-week, but this might violate your community's watering guidelines.
  5. Consult your community's website for detailed information about the watering restrictions. A list of websites is available on the WaterIQ 'site.
  6. Wait until fall to resume plantings. Not all communities have banned new landscape installations -- again, check your community's 'site -- but unless you have time to hand-water, it just makes sense to wait until our reservoirs have been restored and temperatures have begun to cool (a bit.)
  7. Make a plan to convert your lawn and landscape to something beautiful AND water-wise. (August is a FABULOUS time for designs, hint-hint. ;-)
  8. Begin implementing drought-resistant plants and grasses in fall.
  9. Cut back perennials and some grasses in winter (usually around Valentine's Day) 2-4" above ground. Add another layer of mulch -- 2-3" should suffice. Check back in January for updates.
  10. Incorporate water-wise principles into your long-term plans, not just to survive this drought.

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