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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Saving Water is Simpler Than You Think

Mar 05, 2012 06:07PM ● By Howard Garrett

The single most effective way to save 40 to 50 percent on your water bill is to go organic. Here’s how:

• Plant adapted plants. Natives are best.

• Avoid synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemical pesticides.

• Use compost, organic fertilizer and dry molasses.

• Add volcanic rock minerals such as lava sand, zeolite and basalt.

• Mulch all bare soil with shredded native tree trimmings.

• Water at night from 12 to 4 a.m. (No, that doesn’t encourage disease—it rains at night sometimes.)

Be careful of drip irrigation. Water has a habit of seeking the path of least resistance. The result can be wet spots and dry spots; so aboveground sprinkling is usually best. Ideally, it is best to water any turf just before it begins to wilt. Early morning is usually the best time of day and late afternoon is the worst. Morning is when wind is lowest and there will be less waste through evaporation. It is the coolest part of the day, with less evaporation and wasted money, and it provides water during the heat of the day.

How often you water depends on your location, the soil, plant types, organic or synthetic program and other factors. Hopefully, you are organic and thus have lower water needs.

What I do know is this: turn the irrigation control off automatic and on to manual. That way, it won’t come on unless you push the button. You’ll save lots of water, the soil will be healthier and your landscaping will look better. While you are on vacation, maybe automatic is okay. But even then, a neighbor could push the button if needed.

Provide deep, infrequent watering, so that the soil pulses or breathes. About one inch of water per week in the summer is a good starting point, then adjust from there. Light, frequent watering of grass and other plants produces a weak, shallow root system. Shallow, weak root systems encourage weed invasion and do not effectively use soil nutrients and moisture.

Howard Garrett is the Dirt Doctor. For more information, visit Watch a video at

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