Water Conservation - Hand dripping water onto seedling - YardDoc - Austin, TX

How to Save Water Caring for Your Austin Lawn and Landscaping

Water conservation has become more and more important in Texas. Years ago, there were no restrictions on watering lawns. There are a few different things that contributed to where we’re at now.

1. Population Growth
For several years now, nearly 1,000 people per day move to Texas. Approximately 20% of those are in the Austin area.

2. Drought
We have been in a weather cycle that causes drought to happen. There’s less rain than in the past and an enormous demand on our water resources.

3. 5-Stage System
Several years ago, the city of Austin and LCRA imposed a conservation effort after Lake Travis was close to empty. There’s now a 5-stage system in place with water conservation as the lowest effort at Stage 5, even in times of no drought. Stages 1-4 help control unnecessary water use.

Water Conservation Measures We Can Take

Water Conservation - Cross section of grass and roots - YardDoc - Austin, TXThere’s a lot that we can control with water usage, but the biggest one is irrigation because of its high volume. A lot of our plants and landscaping are native or adapted, so they can survive our weather.

A lot of homeowners over-water plants and grass thinking they need lots of extra water, but are contributing to a weaker plant, and wasting water.

If we make our plants and grass work a little harder for the water, it helps drive the roots deeper and will make the plants more self-sufficient. Over-watering will do the opposite and make a weak plant dependent on routine watering.

Water Conservation - Open well with water in bottom - YardDoc - Austin, TXAnother issue is well systems. They are a great way to supply water to our homes, but too many times I’ve heard “my water is free so I can water as much as I need to”.

That mindset is really going to backfire as wells and aquifers are literally sucked dry. People often forget that even though they use a well, that it’s still a shared resource and it can/will go away.

Tips on Saving Water:

  • Turn off your irrigation system when it is raining.
    And also ahead of predicted rainfall. Install a rain sensor (now a requirement in most Texas cities for new irrigation systems) to help ensure that you aren’t watering while it is raining.
  • Do not water during the heat of the day.
    You will lose a large percentage of the water to evaporation, and risk burning plants because of strong sunlight that gets magnified through water droplets.
  • Early morning is the best time to irrigate your lawn and garden.
    Not only do you lose less water to evaporation—but you also don’t leave plants wet for too long (which would be the case if you watered early evening, for example). Extended warm and moist conditions favor fungal development.
  • Mulching.
    Mulching is a great way to keep moisture in your soil. Mulching protects the soil from direct sunlight exposure, which helps keep the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
  • Irrigation system maintenance (quarterly, at a minimum).
    Ensure that it works correctly. Problems would typically include broken or clogged heads, leaks, heads that are no longer at the correct heights because of vegetation growth or soil buildup, misdirected spraying, and possibly inappropriate heads for the water purpose.
  • Irrigation system damage
    The sun will damage the irrigation system over time, which can cause failures such as fatigue of the material. Irrigation systems can also get clogged up with debris in your supply. A system that is not operating optimally will not water correctly. When your sprinkler system needs maintenance or repair, and you are unaware, you could run the system to correct a drier-looking garden, for instance, but in reality, some sections are being over-watered and some still not enough.
  • Seasonal adjustments.
    It is important to adjust watering needs for seasonal conditions. A garden will typically need more water during warmer growth periods and a lot less during cooler dormant periods.

We can all implement water conservation methods easily while caring for our Austin lawns and landscapes.

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