Maintaining a healthy landscape and your home foundation can be a challenge in Texas weather. Below are some best management practices for helping your plants, trees and lawn to flourish for years to come.
The most water-efficient way to maintain a beautiful, healthy landscape in Texas is to xeriscape. While the word xeriscaping may call to mind a dry, dusty desert full of rocks and cactus, it simply means planning a landscape that requires a minimal amount of water.
Install water-wise plants and grasses native or adapted to North Texas. Buffalo grass, Bermuda grass, and zoysia grass are examples of native or adapted grasses that can withstand hot Texas summers. Several native plants that do well in our area include Texas lantana and Turk’s cap. For more native and adapted selections, check the lists from the Water University.
Use 2 to 4 inches of a high-quality mulch in landscape beds around trees and shrubs. High-quality mulch, composed of organic materials, conserves water by significantly reducing moisture evaporation from the soil. Mulch provides a moisture layer, similar to how tall grass keeps the soil moist by shading it.
The key to watering lawns is to apply the water only when needed while creating a deep, well-rooted lawn that efficiently uses water stored in the soil. Due to clay soils in North Texas, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Service recommends using the Cycle-Soak Method for watering lawns, which provides better water absorption and less runoff.
Trees represent a significant investment in your landscape and require different watering than lawns. To water your trees properly, use soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system rather than sprinklers to apply a steady amount of water under the tree canopy. Trees need a deep, thorough soaking once a week in the growing season, either from natural rainfall or supplemental irrigation. When irrigating, be thorough and allow the water to penetrate deeply. To water large trees, let water flow slowly onto an area under the dripline of the tree for several hours.
The goal of watering your home foundation is to keep the soil near and under the slab at a consistent moisture level that is neither wet and muddy nor dry and cracked. Ideally, this level of moisture should be maintained to a depth of several feet.
To water your home foundation, use a drip irrigation system or soaker hoses placed 6 to 18 inches away from your home foundation. Run the drip irrigation system or soaker hoses at a rate that allows the water to trickle into the soil. Do not allow the water to pool or run off.
To avoid wasting water due to evaporation, operate drip irrigation system or soaker hoses before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. during warm months.
NTMWD has partnered with Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Service to provide you with the best research-based tips for maintaining healthy landscapes, trees, and home foundations. Visit the Water University for more tips and information about maintaining a healthy landscape throughout the year.