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gardening imageWater Wise
Advice for Summer

How to shrink those water woes

by Beverly Burmeier

photography by Janis Turk

It’s summer in Central Texas, and it’s hot and dry. So what else is new?

Even in years with more abundant rainfall, our region faces a water deficit. To help ease the shortage, the Texas WaterWise Council (www.waterwisetexas.org) has formulated a list of best management practices that homeowners can implement to conserve water. Adopting these practices will not only enhance and improve your yard and garden, but it will also give your thirsty landscape the best chance for surviving a drought and even lower your water bill.

Start at the bottom
If you’re establishing new beds or landscaping, the best thing you can do is build a deep, high-quality soil at least six to 12 inches deep. Improving native dirt, with commercial landscape soils that include compost, will give you a large reservoir of moisture-holding matter. Even for established beds, periodically top dress with shallow layers of a quality soil amendment (after testing to see what your soil needs) to build a deeper, richer soil profile.

Mulch more
Mulch helps insulate the soil and reduce water loss and erosion. It will also slow or eliminate weed growth, which uses valuable soil moisture you want to save for desirable plants. Place at lease three to four inches of organic material such as pine bark, shredded cedar or composted leaves over all garden surfaces. Replace mulch as it decomposes to protect and enrich the soil while you wait for rain.
When placing materials around trees, be sure mulch does not come in direct contact with the trunk. Extend out to the drip line in a moat-like arrangement.

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