Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Water Saving Tips for Outdoors

In the heat of the summer, it is important to conserve as much water as possible. Some grasses, flowers and plants may still need more water than is provided by our limited summer showers.

  • Prior to watering, feel the soil, look at the grass. Confirm it indeed needs water. 
  • Use a sprinkler that waters low to the the ground and provides drops, not a mist, which can evaporate into the air. 
  • Rain shut off devices should be programmed to avoid unnecessary watering.
  • Automatic sprinkler systems provide regular watering, avoiding the lawn getting too dry.
  • Water early in the morning, avoiding evaporation in the heat of the day.
  • Grouping similar grasses and plants avoids over watering plants that are more drought resistant.
  • Watering by hand held hose is a good idea for small areas, avoiding wasting water the street or a sidewalk.
  • If you have a swimming pool and have to empty it, pump the water onto an area that needs water.
  • Collect rain in buckets or a large trash can to water potted plants or small gardens.
  • When you replace the water in a fish tank, use the old water on plants.
  • If it is necessary to run water in the kitchen sink until it is hot, collect the running water in a pitcher for plants or flowers.
  • New grass, plants and trees may need slightly more water the first year, then less in years following as root systems have become established.
Be creative with new ideas to be conservative. Encourage family members to come up with new suggestions.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Watering in Summer...

With summer upon us, there will be less rain and hotter days. Some things to consider when watering the gardens and yards the next few months, according to Mike Burroughs Landscaping in Kerrville, TX.

  • When planting flowers, plants and grass, consider watering needs for each, as well as sunny and shaded areas. Group similar plants together, avoiding wasteful watering. This is known as hydrozoning.
  • Have sprinkler heads checked periodically to confirm they are functioning to full capacity with no leaks and still pointing the right direction.  
  • Do not water the pavement, and make sure the water is not hitting a bush blocking the grass. 
  • Only water when needed. If the landscape is mostly native plants and flowers, there may be no need to water often. 
  • Watering between dusk and dawn prevents the water from evaporating in the heat and wind. This allows the water to soak into the ground reaching the roots.
  • Installing a rain sensor to turn the system off during a rainstorm will avoid waste and save money.
  • Compost will keep the water in the soil longer and avoid runoff.
  • Replacing mulch once or twice each year will hold moisture in the ground. One to two inches will allow water in, and keep it there longer. 
  • Allow grass to grow slightly taller. This allows it to protect it's own roots, shading them from the heat of the sun. 
  • Change the watering schedule with the seasons. In cooler weather, native plants and flowers will not need as much water as in hot summer months.

"IMG_9605" by Fabrice Florin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Putting Rainwater to Good Use...

Plants prefer rainwater, according to Burrough's Landscaping, Kerrville, Texas. It is free, naturally softer and chemical free, benefiting plants roots. Using native plants and flowers that are more tolerant to our environment will make the most of the rain that we do get. Add compost to the soil to hold the water in longer.

Water features such as ponds and fountains will collect rainwater and add beauty to your yard and gardens at the same time. Confirm how much rain is needed to maintain the pumps.

Whether a gardener wanting cleaner water for your plants, a conservationist who hates the waste of rainwater just running down the drive or out of the gutters, or if a reliable alternative for household use is needed, the choices can be as simple and inexpensive, or elaborate and as costly as you choose.

You can spend as much or as little as you choose to collect rainwater. Simply placing a large clean trashcan out will allow you to water plants and flowers. Rain barrels with taps are available. Connect a hose to water outdoors. There are elaborate systems to filter and cleanse water for inside use. 

Screen wire should always be used to cover barrels to avoid mosquitoes from breeding and algae growth.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

How Much Water Does Your Yard Need?

How much and often does your yard need water?   

To develop deep roots that will take advantage of water when it does rain here in our dry Hill Country, Texas area, water once per week. Depending on the type of grass, time of year, amount of shade, this may vary. Buffalo and Bermuda grass, which grow only in full sun will need one half inch per week. Depending on the weather, this can be reduced or eliminated in the cooler seasons. St. Augustine and Zoysia grass that are in full sun need three fourths of an inch in the summer, but in the shade they only need one half of an inch per week.

If brown or dry spots appear, use a hand held hose to water these areas to avoid soaking remaining grass, and wasting water.

Avoid sprinklers that throw water into the air allowing too much to evaporate. Choose a sprinkler that waters close to the ground to gain the most from the water you use.

Test areas to see how much water is actually being sprinkled. Use a shallow pan, such as a cake pan, or tuna can to collect water for twenty minutes. Sprinklers may distribute different amounts of water, so this will confirm you are gaining the most for the water used.

Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are best for newly planted trees, shrubs and flower gardens. Hook soaker hoses to another hose that is connected to the faucet to get the best use of the water. Turn the faucet only a quarter of a turn at first. Check the soaker hose to confirm the water is slow enough to sink into the ground, allowing it to reach the roots, and not running off.