Create an Attractive, Environmentally Friendly Lawn
Lawns are the carpets of our landscapes. They provide a soft surface for the children’s play area. They moderate temperatures and capture rainfall reducing runoff and erosion. In recent years with growing concerns about future water supplies, turf’s place in our landscape has been called into question. Certainly much can be done to minimize the amount of water it takes to have a lawn.
We can choose from a number of different species that vary in their drought tolerance. Each has its place including Buffalo for a sunny natural setting with minimal mowing or watering, various Zoysias in sun to part shade, Bermuda in sunny areas where traffic is heavy and St. Augustine in part sun to shade where its water needs are dramatically reduced. Lawn sizes are changing as lot sizes have decreased, and they will continue to decrease as future water supply limitations result in landscape design in which turfgrasses are focused on those areas where the family gathers to relax and play. Proper soil preparation, judicious watering and appropriate mowing height all help reduce the amount of water it takes to keep turfgrass healthy and attractive.
The keys to a great lawn are proper mowing, watering and fertilizing. When we provide proper care, water quality and quantity concerns are minimized as are some diseases and insect problems.
- Simple Steps to Lawn Care
- Turfgrass Selection for Texas (Texas AgriLife Extension Service)
- How to Select and Install Sod (Texas AgriLife Extension Service)
- Turfgrass Establishment in Texas (Texas AgriLife Extension Service)
- Grow Green Lawn Care
- Grow Green Lawn Fertilizing
- Grow Green Lawn Problems
- Turfgrass Management and Use (Texas AgriLife Extension Service)
- Texas Turf Tips (Texas A&M Turfgrass Program)
- Fertilizer Calculator
- Fertilizer Spreader Calculation
- Weed ID & Control in Turf
- Take-All Root Rot of Turfgrass (AgriLife Bookstore L-5170)
Water and the Future of the Landscape Industry
It happens every summer. Things begin to get hot and dry and water becomes a topic of conversation and concern. Here in Texas we have tended to take water for granted. Every time you turn on the faucet it comes out, right? Despite what we may think of our summer water bills, our water supply is still relatively inexpensive.
In the summer the quantity of water used by a typical residence peaks at 50 to 100 percent over the winter rate. While typical indoor uses stay fairly level throughout the year, this additional water is going to keep the lawn, garden, and landscape alive. Unfortunately, the months when we need water the most are the months when it rains the least! Municipalities have to build the pumping and supply lines capable of handling this peak. Thus the more we can do to lower the peak, the more money our communities can save.
The future of our water supply has become a major concern for municipalities, agriculture producers, and our legislators. Current projections point to approximately 2030 as the year we “run out of water”, or more accurately when our demand exceeds our supplies.
While experts debate just when this day will come, there is one thing for sure, the future sure looks drier. Surface and ground water supplies will continue to be strained as our population increases. Water is needed for many aspects of our lives including industry, household uses, and irrigation. Considering the various places our water goes, when there is not enough to go around where will we cut back? When the competition is between having drinking water, supplying manufacturing, growing food crops, flushing the toilet, washing clothes, and watering an extensive landscape, which do you think is the most expendable?
Texas AgriLife Extension Service recently conducted a series of meetings called the Texas Community Futures Forum in every county in the state. These meetings brought local residents together to identify the top issues they feel need to be addressed to maintain or improve their quality of life in the future. Water was a top issue in virtually all counties, especially in central Texas.
We need to build more water efficient landscapes. There are many tools at our disposal to do this including choosing drought tolerant plants, water efficient landscape designs, drip irrigation and other technologies, and rainwater collection.
Xeriscape, WaterWise, WaterSmart or whatever name you put on it, water efficient landscaping is here to stay. We can and should be part of the solution.
This section of the website provides a wealth of resources to help you use water more efficiently in the garden and landscape. Get a head start on the future with some wise investments in your landscape today.
- WaterWise in the Landscape
- Landscape Water Conservation: Xeriscape
- Efficient Use of Water in the Garden & Landscape
- Texas Evapotranspiration Network
- Harvested Rainwater
- Rainwater Harvesting (Texas A&M)
- Texas Guide to Rainwater Harvesting (TWDB)
- Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting (TWDB)
- WaterWise Council of Texas
Designing a Beautiful Landscape
A well designed landscape will enhance the beauty and value of a home. It can also be a source of satisfaction and enjoyment.
Most landscapes are basically “cookie cutter” replicas of the others down the block. A standard few shrubs skirt the home while a sea of turfgrass fills in the remainder of the property. These landscapes develop with little consideration of an overall plan. The result can be rather boring.
A landscape should be a place to relax, to play, and to enjoy nature and being outdoors. Just like a home has ceilings, walls and floors, landscape spaces have ceilings of trees and arbors, walls of shrubs and vines, and for a floor lawns, groundcovers and hardscapes.
Landscape styles vary dramatically, from wildscapes that mirror the native look of the region, to traditional well-clipped tidy designs, to eclectic cottage gardens that defy rules and order, to – well you name it! But no matter which style you choose, planning and design are essential to success.
The resources in this section can help guide you through the process of planning a landscape that suits your tastes and interests, one that gets better over time and one that enhances the value of your property and makes outside a place you want to be.
- Low Maintenance Landscaping
- Grow Green Landscape Design
- Grow Green Earthwise Guide to Landscaping
- Green Garden – Award Winning Austin Landscapes
- Home Landscape Design (Texas A&M)
- Residential Landscaping (North Carolina State Univ.)
- Landscaping For Energy Conservation (Texas A&M)
- The Southern Heirloom Garden (Texas A&M)
- Trees for Texas Landscapes (Texas A&M)
- Landscape Design Study Courses (Texas A&M)
- Building a Raised Bed Garden
- Water Gardening in Texas
- Using Color in the Flower Garden
- Low Maintenance Landscaping (Univ. of Missouri Extension)
Attracting Flying Flowers to your Landscape
Butterfly gardening is growing in popularity; and for good reason. Butterflies add interest and beauty to the landscape. These “flying flowers” come in many forms and colors. Kids absolutely love them and the wonder of watching a caterpillar transform into a butterfly is captivating enough to keep both children and adults mesmerized.
You may not see many butterflies in your landscape and doubt that there are many in your neighborhood, but when it comes to butterflies the old adage is true, “if you build it they will come!”
Plants for a butterfly garden come in two types: nectar producing plants to attract adult butterflies and larval food plants to feed their caterpillars.
Add a few of these to your landscape and avoid applying any insecticides to these plants. You’ll soon be enjoying the show put on by a host of fluttering visitors.
- Travis County Butterfly Checklist
- Butterfly Gardening in Texas
- Butterfly Gardening in Texas (AgriLife Bookstore L-5313)
- Caterpillar Food for Cental Texas
- Butterfly Nectar Plants for Cental Texas
- Butterfly Gardening in Florida (Univ. of Florida)
- Butterfly Gardening for Louisianians
- Butterflies of North America (USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center)
- Butterfly Plants for Your Garden (Florida)