Bill Head
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Protecting our water supply is becoming increasingly important

Homeowners across North Texas are finding themselves stunned by skyrocketing water bills and there don’t seem to be many easy answers as to why these bills are appearing. Whether or not we ever get to the bottom of the mystery bills, it is still a good idea to cut back on water consumption. We had a good year to help us out of the drought, but adequate rain isn’t anything we can count on. And with the population boom, it’s certainly a good idea to conserve our water supply where we can. While winter is settling over North Texas, it’s a good time to start planning a more water-conscious landscape around your home.

So where do water-conscious Texans start? Mark out a detailed plan that includes your yard and structures, trees, bushes, flower beds and lawn areas. Aim to replace or plant trees, shrubs and groundcover plants that are native and more drought-tolerant. Native plants are often naturally more pest resistant and require less fertilizer than non-native plants. For grass varieties, consider less thirsty varieties like buffalo grass, centipede grass or Zoysia. Try to reduce the amount of turf grasses in difficult to water areas by confining its use to large blocky areas and avoiding using grass in long narrow strips.

Next, look at your watering habits. Many people over water their lawns and pay no attention to run off. The key to a well-watered lawn is to look at the grass. It only needs watering once it starts showing signs of wilting or discoloration. When you see those signs, you have 24-48 hours to water before serious damage occurs to the plants. Apply 1 inch of water as quickly as possible without causing runoff. Less frequent watering will allow the plants to develop a deeper root system that uses the water in the soil first. Water late in the evening or early in the morning to avoid causing too much evaporation. Adjust sprinkler heads to produce large drops of water rather than a fine mist which can blow away. Use zones to water grassy areas separately and more frequently than groundcovers, bushes and trees.

Mulching is also a good way to conserve water. By using mulch around plants and in flower beds, homeowners reduce moisture evaporation from the soil and keep the soil temperatures more moderate for their plants. It will also reduce weeds and prevent soil compaction. Remember, too much mulch around a foundation can encourage pests, so it may be necessary to remove decomposed mulch or soil before adding a new layer. A good rule of thumb is to leave 6” of exposed foundation between the top surface of your mulch and the lowest row of bricks.

Finally, consider installing a rain barrel. Rain barrels collect water from your gutters for use on plants and vegetable gardens. Plastic or wooden barrels are available at most hardware stores, or you can get plans to build your own online. Collecting water saves money and prevents rain water run off onto pavement.

For more money-saving tips for saving water around your yard, ask your MetroTex Realtor for a referral to a reliable landscaper or gardener. Visit the most trusted source for information on buying or selling a home, at

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