Water is one of the most valuable resources in West Texas. It is our responsibility to use it wisely. In the event that Lubbock experienced a water shortage, a "Drought Contingency Plan" would be implemented which would strictly limit water usage by consumers. To prevent the need to implement this type of plan, Lubbock Water Utilities continues to evaluate water conservation strategies and is providing this brochure to its customers to suggest lawn-watering tips that conserve water.
Use of these tips will help Lubbock Water Utilities continue to provide quality service for many years to come, and save you money.
Water deeply and infrequently. Deep means applying one to one and a half inches of water to lawn to soak down to a depth of four to six inches. Infrequently means water lawn when footprints are visible after you’ve walked across it. By watering in this manner, your lawn will be healthier and hardier, better able to withstand the hot, dry conditions of West Texas summers. The opposite is true for light, frequent applications of water which lead to shallow root systems making the grass more susceptible to heat and drought conditions. Water deep and infrequently. Remember: Rainwater counts too!!
When planting a lawn, choose grasses which require less water. Watering Grass Frequency: Buffalo Grass - Every 2 weeks; Tex-turf-10 - Every 7-10 days; Bermuda - Every 7 days; Tall Fescue - Every 4 days. Note: Lawns require more water when first planted.
Choose an adjustable sprinkler to match wind conditions and area of application. Select a sprinkler which throws large droplets of water low to the ground. Some sprinkler designs throw mists or small droplets high into the air resulting in up to a 70 percent loss of water on hot, windy days. Use drip irrigation, soaker hoses and root feeders around shrubs, trees and in gardens. These allow the plants to soak up the water more slowly resulting in reduced water loss through evaporation or run-off, and deeper root growth.
Watch your sprinkler to see if it is applying water faster than your soil absorbs it. Avoid watering your lawn to the point of run-off. If you have not applied enough water, move the sprinkler to another location until the water has been absorbed.
Use A Sprinkler Timer. Sprinkler timers can help prevent over-application of water by the automatic shut off. They can be useful in determining how much water has been applied. On a windless day, set a few empty cans or glasses of the same size within the spray pattern of your sprinkler. Start the timer and run sprinkler long enough to put an inch of water in the containers. Adjust your sprinkler timer accordingly for future watering use.
Water in early morning hours when sun and wind are less intense and loss due to evaporation is reduced. Afternoon watering can result in the use of twice as much water on hot, windy days compared to an early morning dewatering. If early morning is not possible, the next best time is late evening.
Replace grassy areas with rock gardens, decks, patios or xeriscaped gardens. Lawns are the biggest water users in home landscapes.
Organic mulches shield the soil from heat and wind, reducing soil moisture loss. A good layer of mulch, two to four inches of bark, composted material or straw, can also slow weed growth and improve soil quality. Commercial mulches, which can be found in most nurseries and superstores, include shredded cypress, pine bark, and cotton seed hulls.
Water-Efficient Approach to Landscaping
- Planning and Design
Creating a water efficient landscape begins with a well-thought-out landscape design. Sketch your yard with locations of existing structures, trees, shrubs, and grass areas. Then consider the appearance, function, maintenance, water requirements, and budget. Group the appropriate plants into high, moderate, and low watering zones. Low watering zones are often placed at the edges of yards. Vegetable gardens or turf areas are generally high water users and should be placed closer to the house.
- Practical Turf Areas
Grasses used for turf require more frequent watering and maintenance. Carefully select grass according to its intended use, planting location, and maintenance requirements. Bermuda grass is often used in our area because of its durability and drought resistance. However, it doesn’t like shade. Fescue will tolerate shade, but requires more water. It will go dormant during the summer heat. Another idea to consider is to simply reduce the size of lawns through the use of patios, decks, shrub beds, and groundcover.
- Appropriate Plant Selection
Use the appropriate plants and zone the landscape according to the water needs of the plants. Trees, shrubs, and groundcovers should be selected based on their adaptability to our region’s soil and climate. We have an abundance of beautiful native plants that are adapted to our area. Most have lower water requirements, fewer pest problems, and less fertilizer needs than many, non-adapted, exotic plants brought from outside our area. When in doubt, it is best to use Water-Wise plants from our local nurseries.
- Improve Soil with Organic Matter
To increase plant health and conserve water, till in approximately four inches of compost or suitable organic matter to the soil of shrubs, flowerbeds, and garden areas. Ultimately, gardening success depends on proper attention to the type of soil in which plants are growing. There is an old saying, “Be sure the roots have what they need, and the tops will take care of themselves.”
- Use Mulches
Mulch is a layer of nonliving material covering the soil surface around plants. Mulches can be organic materials such as pine bark, wood chips, newspaper, or straw; or inorganic materials such as lava rock, gravel or permeable plastic, not sheet plastic. Use mulch wherever possible. A good, thick mulch reduces moisture evaporation from the soil. Mulch also reduces weed growth, prevents soil compaction and moderates soil temperatures.
- Efficient Irrigation
The goal of an irrigation system is to give plants a sufficient amount of water without waste. By zoning an irrigation system, grass areas can be watered separately and more frequently than groundcovers, shrubs, and trees. Both sprinkler and drip can be used to achieve water conservation. Make sure permanent sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways. With sprinkler heads adjust to spray large droplets of water instead of fine mist, which is more susceptible to evaporation and wind drift. Water in the late evening or early morning.
An added benefit of xeriscaping is less maintenance. A well designed landscape can decrease maintenance by as much as 50 percent through reduced mowing, once-a-year mulching, elimination of weak, non-adaptive plants, and more efficient watering techniques.