One of the most hotly talked about topics when it comes to watering your yard is: When do I water? or another version is: Does it need water? Is the answer "on Wednesday", because that's my day? Or when the plant actually needs it?? You can probably guess the right answer, but it's hard to know when, exactly, the plant needs it. I can help you determine when it doesn't need it.
With the rain showers we've had recently, it may not be necessary to water at all. Knowing how much rain has fallen in your yard helps make the first--and really, most important--decision for you: is it even necessary for me to water today? The rainfall measurements I take at my house don't always match up to the City's collected amounts at the Water Treatment Plant (which aren't too far apart), so I highly encourage you to take your own rainfall measurement.
The rule of thumb is that half an inch of water is enough on a weekly basis for the spring, fall, and parts of summer. Less than that is needed in winter. More, during the heat of summer. So having a rain gauge, any simple one, is the first way to judge if water is needed. All you have to do is check the gauge to see how much rain your house recieved, if close to 1/2-inch or greater, then no watering is needed. Easy!
To help make that even easier for you, the City's Water Conservation Program is giving out free rain gauges like the one pictured. You can pick one up at the Utility Billing Office in City Hall (limit one per address). There's a limited supply, of course, but try to get one if you can.
Now, thanks to Mother Nature's rainfall, you can leave your irrigation system off for about a week for every half inch of rain--depending on the current temperatures. With the current storms and the temperatures in the low 90s, no outdoor watering is necessary for the next week. Enjoy letting nature do the work for you!
I'm very excited to start a new blog for Round Rock's Water Utilities and Environmental Department! I'm Jessica Woods, the City's Water Conservation Program Coordinator and my plan with this blog is to provide timely information regarding the City's water conservation program--what new rebates we are offering, landscaping information, drought updates, water reuse project information, and whatever else seems interesting to me and hopefully to you!
What was a major catalyst for more water outreach is the drought. We (along with the rest of the State) have been experiencing a drought for the last four years (more or less) and have received many questions from our residents about starting a program to encourage folks to remove grass from their yard and install native shrubs and plants instead (like Austin's programs). Well, we haven't created a program like that yet, but we have begun taking a hard look at our own, outdoor water use and are slowly converting the landscapes at the City buildings to native plants and shrubs, smaller turfgrass areas, and more efficient irrigation systems.
One of our major accomplishments so far is the Police Station. The property had two front parking areas and a lot of grass and weeds in the front. Police Chief Tim Ryle was interested in a major landscape overhaul, as the front parking lot was going to be removed. See the before and after pictures of the remodeled Police Department below as proof. It is still a work in progress, but the majority of the landscaping is completed--there are now crushed gravel walking paths, all native plants, trees, and cacti, and three types of turfgrass (Habiturf and two Bermuda varieties). The existing irrigation system was basically junked and new drip irrigation was installed in all the beds. The turfgrass is watered with efficient rotary nozzles. Plant identification markers have been installed to name what the plants are and some interesting features about them.
Part of the parking lot is still under construction; however in the spring it should be looking fantastic! We'd like to hold small landscape and irrigation seminars on-site to take advantage of the beautiful space. Go past and see it for yourself!
Now, I would love to see what changes you have made to your home landscapes to increase the drought tolerance and water efficiency of it! It could be anything from removing turf, to collecting rainwater. I drive around town A LOT during the work day and see many, many gorgeous yards that I do occasionally take pictures of for inspiration. Please, send me pictures of your beautiful, water-smart yard and a little caption about why you changed it, or what you've noticed since changing it. We'll post these on our City Flickr page (in the Native Landscapes set) to give everyone a change to admire your hard work! And, I'd personally love to see what you're doing to get ideas for my own shady yard! You can email me at email@example.com
Send me those pics!! :)