The basics of Water-Wise landscaping

By Bob Dailey

Water-wise gardening simply means using good common sense. It reduces irrigation needs, lowers water bills, lowers maintenance and provides a much higher quality and worry-free landscape.

Here are some general guidelines for establishing one:

  1. Planning and design- Take some time to look at your yard. You may even want to make a drawing of it. What would you like to change? Less lawn and more ornamental beds? More native plants?
  2. Analyze and amend soil - Without good fertile soil, you cannot have an attractive, water-wise landscape. Texas A&M Soil Science Laboratory in College Station will test your soil for a small fee. Contact the local Texas Agrilife Extension Service in Conroe (936-539-7824) to find out how to do this. Then follow the instructions on the subsequent report and amend your soil accordingly.
  3. Efficient irrigation - Use the cycle and soak method to irrigate your landscape. If you have ornamental beds, install drip irrigation in them. It saves an amazing amount of water, creates little or no evaporation, and the water goes directly to the roots of the plants.
  4. Appropriate plant selection - Use native and adapted plants which do well in our area whenever you can. The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department has produced a large number of brochures on plants. Take advantage of this valuable service.
  5. Mulch - Mulch keeps plant roots cool, prevents soil from crusting, minimizes evaporation and reduces weed growth. Apply two to four inches deep on ornamentals and trees
  6. Practical lawn areas - Many homeowners are realizing that they don’t need large expanses of turfgrass and are decreasing the sizes of their grassy lawns. Some have switched over to grasses with lower water needs (such as zoysia).
  7. Proper maintenance - Have your irrigation system checked by The Woodlands Water Irrigation System Evaluation team, a free service offered by Woodlands Water. Register for a free inspection here.