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KEEP THAT LAWN, LANDSCAPE BEAUTIFUL DURING DROUGHT

For Texans, this means finding ways to cope with the inevitable dry and hot weather is an annual challenge. This year, the challenge is even more trying with much of the state in the midst of a serious drought. But fear not, the Brazos River Authority is here with plenty of tips for growing when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Xeriscaping

When you are selecting plants to adorn your yard, be careful not to focus solely on their beauty. Texas summers can be brutal on more tender vegetation and you may find yourself using a lot of water just to keep some plants alive. Instead, you should also consider how well plants are suited to live in your local climate.

This is where Xeriscaping comes in. Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping that uses native plants and grasses better suited for arid environments. These drought-tolerant landscapes require less watering and are more likely to survive both the potential flooding of spring and drought of summer that is normal for a Texas climate.

You might think this means covering your yard with cacti and rocks, but that is far from the truth. There are many varieties of colorful and lush plants that can make your yard a beautiful place while using little water. Some varieties of commonly used landscaping plants such as roses have been bred to withstand Texas weather.

Successful Xeriscaping involves following a few simple steps.

First, take time to plan your landscape. Next, have your soil analyzed to see what, if any, improvements are needed to give it the right water-holding capacity. Then, if you are using turf as part of the landscape, pick appropriate spots that will be practical to water efficiently. After that, pick out plants that are drought-hearty, yet make good design elements appropriate for your specific yard.

Next, you will want to settle on an irrigation system that will keep your plants healthy without wasting precious water. Drip irrigation is one possibility. Then be sure to use mulches to help the ground retain moisture. Finally, maintain the landscaping by weeding, pruning and adjusting irrigation as needed.

If you would like to create a beautiful landscape with little need for mowing, upkeep and water, consider making the transition to Xeriscaping. A little research will save water and money. For more information about Xeriscaping, including lists of appropriate plants for your situation, please click here.

Fertilizer, mulch and compost

When faced with a dry, browning lawn and wilting plants, people sometimes react in a way that can be ineffective, wasteful and bad for the environment. If a little fertilizer is good for plants, a lot is better, right?

Actually, over-fertilizing can do more damage than good. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can hurt a lawn and other plants. Moreover, the excess can wash into storm drains – ultimately ending up in our lakes and streams, creating problems with the environment and contaminating our drinking water.

Likewise, heavy watering is not necessarily the best way to keep things green when it is dry. Excess water will just wash into storm drains. Instead, infrequent but deep waterings can train your lawn to be drought tolerate. By watering deeper and less often, you will establish deeper roots in your lawn. Deep roots tolerate drought better and require less water than shallow roots.

As previously mentioned, mulch plays an important role in helping your plants through a dry summer by keeping water from evaporating quickly. Mulch is typically made from shredded or chipped woody materials such as trees.

Similarly, by adding compost to the soil around the base of plants, you can help them retain moisture while adding valuable nutrients.

Compost is made by decomposing organic matter into nutrient-rich humus. While you can buy such products at the store, why not save a little money and help the environment? The Brazos River Authority is ready to help Central Texans grow green and lush yards with environmentally friendly or “green” mulches and composts available to the public. Making these mulches and composts allows us to reduce the amount of solid waste normally sent to landfills.

You can find these lawn and garden materials for sale at the Temple-Belton Regional Sewerage System (TBRSS). The most popular product is a compost humus product called Tri-Gro. This compost is produced at TBRSS by processing wastewater bio-solids with wood products.

Since Tri-Gro is processed at temperatures above 133 degrees Fahrenheit, it is free of weed seeds, plant diseases and pathogens. Whether you use it screened as compost or unscreened as mulch, this rich product is just the thing for your lawn or garden.

In addition to Tri-Gro, TBRSS also sells Cedar mulch, an aesthetically pleasing red color for flower bed, that is a natural insecticide.

For more information about pricing, availability and loading hours, please call the Authority at (254) 939-6471. Use of the Tri-Gro compost and mulch products is not recommended for gardens producing plants or vegetables for human consumption.

For more about lawn care and water conservation, please click here.