With spring in the air, the thoughts of many homeowners have turned to their gardens. But with water restrictions still tight in North Texas, you might fear that your garden will wither in the summer sun. Well, perhaps not, if you know how to keep your garden healthy in a drought.
As of April 2014, the North Texas Municipal Water District still has restrictions for landscape watering at Stage 3. This means you can water only once every two weeks with sprinklers or irrigation systems. Lack of adequate rainfall, declining water levels at NTMWD reservoirs, and the temporary loss of the Lake Texoma raw water
supply due to the zebra mussel infestation are the main reasons we're in Stage 3 and likely will be for the coming months.
Obviously, plants, flowers, and grasses need water to live and stay beautiful. Watering your garden within the guidelines of the restrictions is vital if you want to keep your garden healthy, but knowing how and when to water is key. Infrequent, but regular soakings work best for established plants, and watering in the morning before temperatures climb helps hold in ground moisture from overnight. Also, consider forgoing the sprinklers, as much of the water intended for your plants will just evaporate into the air before it reaches them.
Beyond the Pail
Applying water is only half the battle. You also need to keep it from evaporating in the heat and sunlight. If you can shade parts of your garden that don't require heavy sunlight, do so. Another great option is mulch. Two or three inches of mulch over soil will keep the harsh summer sun from drying out the ground and the winds from blowing dry soil away. Mulch will also keep healthy soil in place and not wash away when sudden, flash rains arrive.
Pull the Weeds
Every new weed is another drink of water your garden won't get. This is also true for tufts of grass that take root in places you don't want them. Keep your garden free of all plants that don’t belong there, no matter how small or seemingly innocent. Weeds are weeds for a reason ‒‒ they grow fast and choke out other plants by stealing their water.
Stop Applying FertilizerIt may sound counterintuitive, but if you want to maintain your garden through a drought, stop fertilizing. Fertilizer to gardens is like spinach to Popeye ‒‒ it makes them grow big and strong, which means they'll need more water in order to stay healthy. Don't kill off your plants by making them too strong, they won't stay that way for long.