By Carol Siddall Master Gardener
Here we are three months into 2018, and we are around 2 1/2 inches behind in our rainfall. After last year’s good rain, we are a little spoilt and not ready for more drought. But there are water-saving helps out there. We have heard them all before, but a little reminder may help.
>> Organic matter: Adding this to our soil helps increase the soil’s ability to absorb and store water in a form available to the plant, shrub or tree.
When selecting your trees, shrubs, or groundcovers, choose ones that are adaptable to our area. You can check out the Master Gardeners website (westtexasgardening.org) for suggestions. Try to use Texas native plants. Just remember that any plant will need a little extra water when first planted to help it get established.
If you still want a lawn in your landscape, look for ones that don’t require frequent watering. In our area that includes St. Augustine grass, Bermuda grass, and Zoysia grass. I have not had much luck with the latter, however.
>> Mulch: Use this in your garden whenever possible. Organic mulch such as pine bark, compost, and woodchips can reduce moisture evaporation from the soil. Mulch is also a great help in keeping the weed population down.
>> Mowing: Using the correct height of your mower will also help conserve water. Texas A & M AgriLife Extension suggests mowing St. Augustine grass at 3 inches; Bermuda grass at 1 inch, and Zoysia grass at 2 inches.
>> Low volume irrigation: If you use low volume irrigation, you will be using water more efficiently. It will apply water only where it is needed and slowly enough to minimize runoff. I still get upset when I see water running down the road from someone’s sprinkler system!
>> Rain water: Don’t forget to harvest rain water. If you have gutters already in place, capturing rain water is so easy. Just place a container under the downspout. If I had not had rain water during our last drought I would have lost more plants then I did.
For more information, call the AgriLife offices at 498-4071 in Odessa or 686-4700 in Midland.