Bill Head

Nobody wants doggie doo in their drinking water. And yet, run-off from most lawns can include fertilizers, pesticides and yes, gifts from our pets  - all of which end up in our water supply. Smarter landscaping choices can help protect our water supply from contaminants and can save homeowners from escalating water and electricity bills. From the MetroTex Association of Realtors, here are our top tips to keep you and your yard healthy.

 Water Conservation. While the recent drought is Texas ended with some of the wettest days we’ve ever seen, it’s still a good idea to upgrade your landscape to include more water tolerant features and to discourage run-off. Try to group plants with similar watering needs in the same zones. Take advantage of the drainage patterns provided by the natural contours in the land by planting thirstier plants where the water accumulates, and by planning terraces which can prevent erosion.

Take care of your dirt. Unless your landscape contains a lot of succulents, your plot could probably use more organic material. Adding compost and aerating your yard will allow rainwater to drain quickly yet still be retained deep in the soil where the roots are. Bonemeal and rock phosphates are often recommended in North Texas to address our naturally alkaline soils.

Grow less grass.  Turf is thirsty and expensive to maintain, so it’s best to limit its usage. Where you do want turf for open spaces, use native species where possible. Buffalograss is a recommended cariety because it needs little to no watering once established. Even better, varieties of buffalograss like 609 and Stampede rarely need to be mowed.

Embrace native plants. Plants that are native to North Texas use less water and can provide food for birds and butterflies. Sun-loving plants like lantana, purple coneflower, and Texas sage are popular choices. Beautiful options for shade dwellers are turk’s cap, columbine and liriope.

Must-have Mulches. Coarse compost, bark, gravel and wood chips help retain soil moisture and block out weeds. Several inches of mulch should be applied. Remember to leave about 6 inches of exposed foundation to discourage termites and ants from entering your home. It may be necessary to dig out soil before applying a fresh layer of mulch. Don’t leave areas of bare soil. Cover it with mulch or a ground cover plant to reduce erosion and evaporation.

Water when needed. Slow drip irrigation systems and soaker hoses deliver water to the base of the plant with less evaporation. Maintaining a deep, infrequent watering schedule encourages deeper and more root growth which takes advantage of water in the soil and prevents erosion.

Maintain Your Space. Dense, healthy native plants not only use less water, but also require less pruning and discourage weed growth. Another advantage with native plants is the lower requirement for fertilization and pesticides. Try to use as few chemicals in the yard as possible to prevent run-off and do pick up after pets frequently.

 For more landscaping tips, ask your MetroTex Realtor for a referral to your local xeriscaping company. Looking for that perfect house to go with your dream garden? Visit today.

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