Water Conservation Tips for Landscaping

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					Water Conservation
Tips for Landscaping
     In Arkansas, a surprising             A common water-efficient                To conserve water and increase
amount of water is used daily in      concept is known as xeriscape.           the health of plants, add organic
home landscapes. Water authori-       This is a concept developed in           matter to the existing soil. This
ties have reported that as much       Colorado in response to annual           will increase the soil’s ability to
as 70 percent of water from           water shortages. This style of land-     store water for the plant to use.
municipal water systems can be        scape design depends primarly on         Mix organic matter in with the
attributed to residential use. Of     rainfall and relies little on supple-    top 4 to 6 inches of soil. Organic
all the water used in one house-      mental water. Landscapes that            matter also helps with drainage
hold during the summer months,        follow water-conserving principles       and to relieve compaction of hard
almost 50 percent is used to          can remain beautiful, require less       soils. Remove all weeds and
maintain landscape plantings.         labor and are water efficient.           grasses in areas; they will compete
                                                                               with new plants for nutrients and
     In some areas of the state,
                                                                               water in the soil.
water supplies may be limited or      Water Conservation
restricted and can be expensive to
purchase. However, the home-          Principles                               Use Practical Turf Areas
owner does not have to sacrifice                                                    Turf is the largest user of
color and beauty in order to prac-    Planning and Design                      water in the home landscape. It
tice water conservation in the            Creating a water-efficient           carries with it a high cost in
plantings and maintenance of land-    landscape begins with a practical        money and time to maintain. Use
scapes. Peak usage of water comes     plan for design. Analyze your area       turf only in areas where it serves a
during the hot summer months          with locations of existing turf areas,   purpose, as in areas of entertain-
(May, June, July and August).         trees and shrubs. Consider the           ment and play. When deciding on
During this period, it is very        budget, function, appearance and         a turf, select a variety suited for
important to follow water             maintenance of the landscape             the climate of Central Arkansas.
efficiency plans set forth by the     plans. Be aware of different climate     Bermudagrass and zoysiagrass are
water authorities.                    aspects of the area: amounts of sun,     the two best types of warm-season
                                      shade and slope. Local professional      turf that do well in the hot, dry
The Concept of                        landscape architects and designers
                                      can help in proper decision-making
                                                                               climate of this region. These turfs
                                                                               are water-efficient grasses.
Traditional and                       and implementing the desires of          Consider replacing nonessential
                                      the homeowner.                           turf areas or shady areas with other
Xeriscape Landscaping                                                          groundcovers, patios, hardscapes
    The traditional concept of        Soil Analysis and Preparation            or mulches.
landscape is characterized by large       Soil testing is an important part
areas of turf with trees and shrubs
                                      of every successful landscape. It
                                                                               Efficient Irrigation
placed throughout. This type of
                                      determines which nutrients are               Always keep a well-maintained
landscape contains the two
                                      needed to improve existing soil.         and efficient sprinkler system.
greatest consumers of water in
                                      Contact your local county Exten-         Check your system regularly for
the landscape. Conventional
                                      sion office for proper directions on     broken heads, disrupted nozzles,
landscaping can be costly for the
                                      how to collect a soil sample.            leaks or faulty valves. Do not
homeowner to maintain.
water driveways, sidewalks or                                                                                water by reducing evaporation. It
streets. Water only when necessary,                                                                          also helps to eliminate erosion and
and adjust your irrigation system                                                                            prevent competition for nutrients
with changes in weather. Rain shut-                                                                          from weeds. Mulch should be
off devices should be installed on                                                                           applied to the entire area at 1 to
all irrigation systems. These                                                                                3 inches in depth.
devices are a major contributor to
water conservation.                                                                                          Appropriate Maintenance
    When using a hose-type                                                                                       Heavy pruning of plants leads
sprinkler, use a timer device to                             drought-tolerant plants are                     to excessive growth and extra
eliminate water running for exces-                           established, they use far less                  water needs. Lightly prune plants
sive periods of time. Use efficient                          water than other plants.                        to shape and direct their growth.
watering systems such as soaker or                                                                           Homeowners can reduce weeds by
drip hoses that limit water output.                    •     Group plants together                           hand pulling weeds in the early
Only operate irrigation systems in                           according to water needs. This                  stages, preventing the spread of
the early morning hours. This                                will help to properly utilize                   weed seeds. Properly timed appli-
reduces evaporation of water and is                          every bit of water that is dis-                 cations of herbicides and insecti-
best to maintain plant health.                               tributed. Local nurseries and                   cides can also contribute to water
Apply water infrequently and                                 the county Extension office can                 conservation. Apply nutrients only
deeply to plants to ensure that                              supply needed knowledge of                      when plants need them, and use a
roots will grow deep and healthy.                            the plants that are practical for               slow-release formula of fertilizer.
                                                             your landscape.
                                                                                                                 Always follow watering
Plant Selection                                                                                              guidelines or restrictions set forth
                                                       Use Mulch
•      Select drought-tolerant plants                                                                        by the water municipalities. These
       that are proven to grow well in                     Mulch any organic material                        recommendations are put into
       the Central Arkansas climate.                   that covers the soil around plants.                   place to ensure water is available
                                                       Tree bark, compost or inorganic                       for household use. Homeowners
•      Consider using native plants                    materials, such as lava rock, are                     should help educate their family
       that grow and are adapted to                    options homeowners can use.                           and neighbors on the importance of
       your climate zone. When                         Mulch helps the soil conserve                         water conservation.

    This tip sheet was written by MARK BROWN, Pulaski County Extension Agent - Water Conservation with
    the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture in Little Rock.

                                     Printed by University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Printing Services.

                          University of Arkansas, United States Department of Agriculture and County Governments Cooperating

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age,
           disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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