Lawns and Plants
- Add 2 to 4 inches of compost or bark mulch around trees and plants to help maintain soil moisture and prevent weed growth. To minimize water runoff, press the mulch down around each plant’s drip line to form a tiny depression.
- Choose drought-tolerant plants, and group plants together with similar water needs. If you’re installing a lawn, select a turf mix or blend suitable for the site and climate conditions.
- Use ollas (unglazed clay pots) to irrigate your bedded plants. Seal the drainage holes, and bury the pots so about one inch remains above ground. Fill with water and cover the pots. Water will slowly seep through the porous clay and directly irrigate the plant roots. Usually you only have to fill the pots once or twice a week.
- Weed your garden beds — it cuts down on excess water consumption due to plant competition.
- Plant when temperatures are cooler. The plants require less water and it’s less stressful for them.
- Plant groundcover and shrubs rather than turf in hard-to-water sections, such as isolated strips and steep slopes.
- Prevent over-watering of plants by checking the soil moisture depth with a trowel, shovel, or soil probe. Water if the top 2 to 3 inches is dry. You can also get a free soil moisture meter from Austin Water.
- Change the mowing height of your lawn mower. Taller grass shades the soil, reducing moisture loss, and also encourages the growth of deeper root systems.
- Don’t over-seed your lawn with winter grass that needs regular watering. Warm season turf, such as St. Augustine and Bermuda, goes into a form of dormancy during the winter, and doesn’t need as much water.
- Aerate your lawn at least once a year to allow water to reach the roots, instead of running off the surface.
- Top dress turf areas with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of compost to increase soil health. Healthy soil holds more water.
- To prevent over-watering, use a timer on hose-end sprinklers.
- Bathe your pets outside in an area where the lawn needs more water.
- Use a rainwater harvesting system to capture rainwater from your roof to use on your landscape. Austin Water has a rainwater harvesting rebate.
- Free landscape design templates, a list of drought-tolerant plants native or adapted to the area, and other gardening information to help you develop sustainable landscaping practices is available at Grow Green.
- Inspect your irrigation system regularly for any leaks or problems that may be wasting water and make needed adjustments and repairs immediately. A thorough checkup should be done each spring, summer, and fall, preferably by an irrigation professional.
- Check the watering schedule for your address.
- Make sure your controller is programmed properly to avoid over-watering. South Austin Irrigation can help you with your settings.
- Start with low times and add more time if areas in your yard become dry.
- Best time to water is in the early morning hours when wind speed and temperatures are the lowest, which reduces evaporation and waste.
- Your lawn only needs 1 inch of water per week, even in the hottest months. Remember to take rainfall into account.
- Water 1 day every 2 weeks in the spring and fall, compared to 1 day a week in the summer.
- Turn your system off for the colder weather but run it a few times over the winter to keep the valves and seals lubricated, and the grass root system healthy.
- Adjust sprinklers that are spraying too high into the air, onto pavement or the side of your home, or into tall grass and shrubs.
- After mowing, check that sprinkler heads haven’t been run over and knocked out of alignment or broken.
- Rebates may be available for improving the water efficiency of your irrigation system.
- A free irrigation system evaluation is available from Austin Water for customers using 20,000 gallons in 2 consecutive months, or 25,000 gallons in 1 month of the current irrigation season. You can also do a self-audit of your system.
- Have a licensed irrigator help you to select the most efficient irrigation types for turf, bedded plants, shrubs, and trees.
Call South Austin Irrigation at 512-694-1147 and let the experts show you how to save water and save money!
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