Visit Grow Green for free landscape design templates, a list of drought tolerant plants that are native or adapted to the area, and troubleshooting tips.
Install a rainbarrel or rainwater harvesting system to capture rainwater from your roof for use on your landscape. Rebatesmay be available from Austin Water.
Add 2 to 4 inches of organic material, such as compost or bark mulch, around trees and plants to help retain moisture in the soil and discourage weed growth. Press mulch down around the drip line of each plant to form a slight depression which will help minimize water runoff.
Try using ollas (unglazed clay pots) to irrigate your bedding plants. Bury the pots (first seal any drainage holes) so that about one inch remains above the surface. Fill with water and cover. The water will slowly seep through the porous clay, directly irrigating the plants’ roots. Refill when the water is absorbed, usually once or twice a week.
Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Taller grass encourages growth of deeper root systems and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.
Choose drought-tolerant plants when landscaping, and group plants with similar water needs together (hydrozoning). If you’re installing a lawn, select a turf mix or blend that matches climate and site conditions.
Avoid over-seeding your lawn with winter grass that requires watering. Warm season turf, such as St. Augustine and Bermuda, goes into a form of dormancy over the winter and gets adequate water from precipitation.
Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for areas that receive little use or are hard-to-water, such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
When you give your pet fresh water or clean out your fish tanks, don’t pour the old water down the drain. Use it to water your plants. Wash pets outdoors in an area of lawn that needs water.
Aerate your lawn at least once a year by punching holes about six inches apart to allow water to reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
Don’t over-water your plants. Learn how much water they need and how best to apply the right amount. Before watering, use a trowel, shovel, or soil probe to examine soil moisture depth. If the top two or three inches of soil are dry, it’s time to water.
Use a timer on hose-end sprinklers to avoid over-watering. Remember that sprinklers may only be used according to the assigned watering schedule for your address.
Use a minimum amount of organic or slow release fertilizer to promote a healthy and drought tolerant landscape.
Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs, and allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil to keep soil cooler and reduce evaporation.
Plant when temperatures are cooler and plants require less water- this is also less stressful for the plants.
Remove weeds from your garden beds- this helps cut down on excess water consumption due to plant competition.
Water areas in the shade about 30 percent less than sunny areas. Shade creates a microclimate of cooler temperatures and lower evaporation, so plants need less water.
Top dress turf areas with ¼ to ½ inch of compost to help increase soil health.