Houston, Texas can get very dry in the summer, with temperatures reaching and staying at 100 degrees and higher. The cost of water is rising as Houston, Texas communities struggle to meet the water needs of a growing population. Water for gardening becomes a luxury. Gardeners turn to putting out rain buckets and other measures to obtain water, but there is another alternative, too – Xeriscape landscaping, or Xeriscaping. This is landscaping that embraces the concept of water conservation, and it’s not all about cacti and rock gardens. The term was coined in the 1970s in Denver Colorado, and this practice is also called water-wise or water-smart landscaping. If you are interested in learning about some simple steps for Xeriscaping your own Houston, Texas garden or lawn, see below.
There are seven steps to Xeriscaping your Houston, Texas lawn: planning, soil analysis, turf needs, plant selection, irrigation, mulching and maintenance. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Take a look at each Xeriscaping step in detail below.
Planning. This involves taking a look at the Houston, Texas area you are Xeriscaping, and then deciding on important factors such as budget, maintenance, and water demand. Be sure to note on your plan where you have areas of sun and shade, as well as any drainage problems like areas of standing water after a rain. Involve experts if you are unsure of this step – nurserymen, landscape architects, and even the Houston County has experts who can help. If you are Xeriscaping a large area, you may want to plan it out over months or even years.
Soil analysis. Organic materials such as shredded pine bark should be mixed into your soil when Xeriscaping to increase its ability to absorb and store water. An analysis of your Houston, Texas soil will let you know if anything else needs to be done to improve your soil’s water absorption and retention.
Assess your turf needs. Grass requires more watering then most other plants, so use it only where needed in your Houston, Texas Xeriscaping (for example, a place for your children to play.) Otherwise use shrubs, flowers or other plants that require less watering.
Plant selection. Native plants are best when Xeriscaping, since they are already adapted to the Houston, Texas climate. Another good choice is any plant that has been certified a Texas Superstar, since these plants undergo rigorous testing, including water deprivation, before receiving this designation. This doesn’t mean you can’t use exotic plants, just make sure they can adapt to your Houston, Texas Xeriscape. Rudbeckia, Hummingbird Mint, Plumbago and Angelonia are just a few of the flowers you can use while Xeriscaping in Houston, Texas.
Irrigation. Proper watering techniques are essential when Xeriscaping so that water is not lost to evaporation, runoff, and other factors, saving you as much as 50% on your water bill. Did you know that most Houston, Texas lawns receive twice as much water as they need? Depending on the size of your Xeriscaped area and the types of trees, shrubs and other plants, you can use sprinkler irrigation or drip irrigation. Seek professional advice on this step and experiment with small portions of your Xeriscape until you get it right. Sometimes you can Xeriscape your Houston, Texas lawn or garden so that no water, other than rain, is necessary.
Mulching. Mulch reduces evaporation, reduces weeds and regulates the soil temperature in your Houston, Texas garden. Essential to Xeriscaping, make sure you apply at least four inches of mulch to all of your plants. Organic mulch is best – try pecan hulls, shredded landscaping clippings, and other organic matter.
Maintenance. The good news is that Xeriscaping can cut down on the maintenance your Houston, Texas lawn or garden needs by fifty percent. Mow your lawn to the proper height to conserve water (this will depend on what type of grass you have planted.) Apply fertilizer at the proper time and in the proper amount – once in the spring and once in the fall is usually enough.