Lawns, Gardens & Landscapes
Water conservation is important in home and business landscapes. While leaving automatic irrigation systems turned off, and only turning them on when plants need water, is a much needed practice change in many residential and business landscapes, selecting drought tolerant plants is also important.
This article focuses on drought tolerant shrubs for different functions. While listed as drought tolerant, keep in mind plants need established roots to develop tolerance to dry sites. It is often a deep or extensive root system that makes a plant drought tolerant.
Storm drains in some towns have markers that read “No dumping. Drains to waterways”. These markers are part of the public education communities are doing to help protect surface water from urban run-off pollution.
Most residential areas are designed for rainwater to flow into the street and then into a storm drain. From there, it flows almost directly to a stream, river or lake, taking along what it picks up from surfaces it flows across.
While we can’t ever control or even predict the weather, it is important to have a plan on how to deliver water to our home gardens during the hot, dry months of the summer. While Nebraska may be the capitol of crop irrigation systems, many home gardeners don’t give quite as much thought about water management and delivery in their home vegetable gardens or landscapes.
Aside from reducing water need through some good management practices, delivering water in an efficient and sustainable way is important when planning and planting our home gardens.
Rain gardens are an aesthetic feature of your residential landscape that also has a hydrologic function. Hydrologic means related to water. A properly designed and constructed rain garden for a residential landscape (no underground drainage system) is designed like a bathtub to hold water and let it slowly seep into the soil beneath the garden. This water is available for plant growth, and this water is removed from runoff that leaves your yard and does not contribute to downstream flooding or pollution. How well does your rain garden serve its hydrologic function?
In the overall “holiday” turf fertilization schedule, where Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Halloween are indicators of good timing for applications to cool season turfgrasses (Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass), early summer is a key timeframe for encouraging healthy growth. When growing warm season turf species such as buffalograss and zoysiagrass, Memorial Day is perhaps the most important time to apply fertilizer, perhaps followed by a light 4th of July application if a lawn is thin or in need of recovery.