Having trouble viewing this message? Read it on the web.
USC Training Courses
Upcoming Courses

Click on the courses below for more information and to register.

Native and Adaptive Plants for a Water Conserving Landscape (AM) Mar 10, 2011
Native and Adaptive Plants for a Water Conserving Landscape (PM) Mar 10, 2011
Rain Gardens: Design, Construction and Maintenance (AM) Mar 16, 2011
Rain Gardens: Design, Construction and Maintenance (PM) Mar 16, 2011
Master Gardener Specialist - Irrigation Efficiency Training Mar 28-30, 2011
March Landscaping Tips
  • Prepare beds for planting warm-season flowers and vegetables by turning 2 to 3 inches of compost into the top 6 inches of soil. Add 2 to 3 inch of expanded shale if you have clay soil.
  • Newly planted trees require individual watering for the first growing season. About once a week, place the garden hose near the base of the tree and allow the water to drip until the soil is saturated.
  • Many trees and shrubs are damaged or killed each year by careless application of weed killers, including those found mixed with fertilizers. Always read and follow label directions very carefully. Weeds in a lawn usually indicate a poor lawn-management program. Weeds are usually crowded out in a thick healthy lawn.
  • Start containers or hanging baskets with colorful summer flowering annuals for another dimension in your landscape.
  • Shear back freeze-damaged beds of Asiatic jasmine, mondo grass and Liriope groundcover before new growth starts to encourage new growth from the base.
  • For early color in the landscape, plant some of the following annuals as transplants: ageratums, cockscombs, begonias, coreopsis, cosmos, cleomes, marigolds, nasturtiums, petunias, phlox, portulaca, salvias, sweet alyssums, sunflowers, and zinnias.
  • For perennials that beat the heat and keep on blooming all summer, plant lantana, Salvia greggii, mealy cup sage, Turks cap and Knox Out roses.

Click Here For Our Recommended Plant List

Water Efficient Landscaping

Native and adaptive plants require less water, pesticides, fertilizers, and maintenance. Once established, they do not need to be watered as frequently, and they usually will survive a dry period with little or no watering.

To establish and maintain a healthy landscape that conserves water, consider using the following water efficient landscaping principles:

Get a soil analysis - Collect soil samples from various areas of your yard and have it analyzed by Texas AgriLife Extension. Call your local county Extension office for submittal form, sample bag and instructions. This analysis will tell you the soil type, fertility and pH of your soil. This information will help you decide which plants will work best in your yard and what is the best fertilizer analysis and amount.

Plan your landscape - Evaluate the conditions in your yard, such as sunny and shady areas, how you will use sections of the yard and how large you want mature plants to grow.

Choose the proper plants - Determine each plant’s need for sun, shade, soil and water, and its tolerance for cold or salt. Match the plant’s needs to the appropriate spot in your landscape.

Use turfgrass wisely - Grass is often the biggest water user in your yard. Save grass for areas where children or pets will play. In other areas, consider shrubs, perennials, or groundcover.

Irrigate effectively - Group landscape plants that have similar water requirements together in areas separate from the lawn. Use the most water-efficient sprinklers for each area. Zones of inground irrigation systems should be separate for turf and non-turf areas. Use appropriate matching spray heads throughout the zone. Less frequent, but heavier lawn watering encourages a deeper root system to withstand dryer weather. Drip irrigation is 90 percent efficient. Use drip irrigation in all non- turf areas.

Mulch - Using mulch helps retain soil moisture and moderates temperature. Mulching also helps to control weeds that compete with plants for water. Spread 2 to 4 inches of mulch, such as wood chips, pine straw or leaves, around shrubs, trees, groundcover and flowerbeds.

Maintain your yard - Remove only one third of the grass length at each mowing. Mow weekly during growing season. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to provide free fertilizer, and help lawns grow greener and denser without causing thatch (grass clipping) buildup. Keep the mower blade sharp and mow when the grass is dry.

Click Here For More Water Conservation Tips

Landscape Water Efficiency by Dotty Woodson

According to the 2010 census, Texas population has passed the 25 million mark and climbing. This is a 20.6% gained since the 2000 census and according to Steve Murdock, Texas demographer, Texas basically doubled in population since 1975. Some demographers are predicting the population will double again by 2060. Growth and development is great for the state and the economy. In order to meet the future water requirements for this type of growth, Texas has plans to build new lakes, water treatment and waste water treatment plants and move water from areas with plenty of water to areas with little water. This plan will cost billions of dollars.

All future landscapes must conserve water to be sustainable. Landscape water efficiency practices are easily adaptable in most landscapes.

The 3 most important landscape water efficiency practices are:

  1. Irrigation efficiency
  2. Maintaining a two to four inch mulch layer in all non-turf areas
  3. Planting resource efficient native and adapted plants

Irrigation efficiency will save the most water. Water use increases 30 to 60% during the irrigation season. Check your irrigation system for common easy to fix problems or have a licensed irrigator check the system.

Turn on the irrigation system and check each sprinkler head for the following:

  • water spraying on to road, sidewalk or driveway;
  • not spraying the correct pattern or distance;
  • not popping up;
  • leaking at the sprinkler head or at the valve;
  • grass too tall or sprinkler sunk too low.

All these problems waste water and create landscape problems by keeping the soil too wet or too dry.

Check the irrigation schedule to make sure the system runs after 6:00 pm and before 10:00 am to keep irrigation water from evaporating.

Add a rain and freeze sensor if you do not have one. A rain and freeze sensor will overdrive the controller schedule during rainfall or a freeze.

For greater savings look at replacing spray nozzles with more efficient multi-stream nozzles. For even greater efficiency, look into converting to drip irrigation. Drip irrigation is the most efficient irrigation method. Smart controllers are now available to run irrigation according to evapotranspiration or soil moisture.

Evapotranspiration is a combination of water lost from soil due to evaporation and water lost from plants due to transpiration, a natural process of all plants. Both evaporation and transpiration increase as the temperature increases, as humidity goes down and as the wind blows. The evapotranspiration rate is measured at weather stations throughout Texas. Both current and historic evapotranspiration and rainfall data is available at texaset.tamu.edu.

Mulch is an organic layer maintained on the soil to reduce water evaporation from the soil root zone. Mulch increases water absorbing and holding capacity, reduces erosion, helps control weeds, moderates soil temperature in summer and winter and eventually breaks down into nutrients plants require to thrive. Maintain a two to four inch mulch layer in all non-turf areas.

Plant native and adapted plants because these plants have proven to require less water, fertilizer and pesticides. A good resource for landscape plant selection for the North Central Texas area is with the Texas SmartScape web site. The web site was written and is maintained by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, (NCTCOG). This web site has a plant selection search with pictures, water conserving practices, and resources to find more information and to visit water conservation landscape demonstrations.

Texas AgriLife Extension, in cooperation with the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association and the Texas Water Development Board, has a web site for plant selection for the state of Texas called Texas Urban Landscape Guide. Go to urbanlandscapeguide.tamu.edu to search for landscape plants ranked by water efficiency and other environmental issues. You can search this web site by criteria or by your zip code.

Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Dallas | http://urbansolutionscenter.tamu.edu
Are you receiving this email each month? If not, sign up for your free subscription.
Questions or comments? Email us at t-hunt@tamu.edu.