Outdoor water use can account for more than 50 percent of a home's monthly usage during the summer. Texas summers can definitely wreak havoc on a home’s landscape - and a homeowner's wallet.
High temperatures and lack of rainfall can stress plants and create real challenges for maintaining a healthy landscape. Fortunately, there are sustainable ways to encourage and maintain a healthy and aesthetically pleasing landscape and lawn. Before soaking plants with water from the hose and sprinklers, consider ways to maintain landscaping while making the best use of precious water supplies.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) offers a checklist for maintaining a healthy, water-wise landscape during summer:
- Plant water-efficient, well-adapted, and/or native shrubs, trees, and grasses. Choose plants that are drought- and heat-tolerant and can survive the minimum winter temperatures in your area. In odd-shaped planting areas, use drought-tolerant groundcover instead of grass.
- Use mulch as a protective ground cover to reduce evaporation of soil moisture, help maintain uniform soil temperatures, reduce soil erosion, control weeds and, in the case of organic mulches, enriches the soil.
- Only water in early morning and at night, and follow local watering restrictions. These times are better because winds are calmer and temperatures are lower, resulting in less water evaporation. It’s important to give leaf surfaces time to dry before nightfall to deter disease and decay. Also, be sure to follow local watering restrictions. The water used to maintain landscaping is the same water that comes out of your faucet, and watering restrictions are put in place to preserve the city’s water supply.
- Manage in-ground irrigation, and avoid automatic settings for irrigation systems. Instead, adjust the system manually according to rain events and seasonal fluctuations. Ensure that water is being applied where it is needed and in the amount that is needed. A good rule is to wet the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches to reach the root system of the plants.
- Check sprinkler heads. The best type of sprinkler for lawns is one that produces large drops of water close to the ground. Don’t use a sprinkler that produces a mist or fine spray. Check sprinkler heads regularly to make sure they are working properly and have the right water pressure.
To explore more resources and tips on water use and conservation, visit the Texas Water Development Board’s water conservation resource page.