Thrifty ways to save your lawn and the environment



Posted on April 22, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 4:36 PM

Water restrictions start Monday in Dallas. Last week, the Dallas City Council voted to make twice-a-week watering limits permanent.

Residents will only be able to use sprinklers twice a week, but can still water by hand or use soaker hoses more frequently.

Officials from other North Texas cities say they also plan to extend existing water restrictions.

That makes many home gardeners nervous that that our lawns and plants won't get enough water. Three Atlanta-area landscapers have some ideas you might want to consider.

"There's native plants all over the United States. They easily adapt to your area, to your soil temperatures, your soil types," said Karen McCaustland of the Georgia Native Plant Society. "They're adaptive to their region, so you don't have to do extra fertilizing to keep them happy. We never say, 'Don't use things like the mass-produced things like pansies in the landscape.' I like my pansies to in the winter too, just for the color."

"For the most part, once plants are established they don't need as much water as we think they do," McCaustland added. "A rain barrel is a good idea — especially if you have a lot of potted plants that you need to water."

"A thousand square foot roof will produce 600 gallons of water with one inch of rain," noted Patrick Magee of Brookhaven Rain Barrels. "What rain barrels are designed to do is capture loose rain water, you store it, and then you are able to water your plants on a dry day. These rain barrels will push a 50 to 70 foot garden hose anywhere on the property so you can water any tree periodically as you please."

Another way to conserve water is by capturing the condensation from your air conditioner," Magee suggested. "Drip, drip, drip. Just one drip at a time."

"I've always used a manual mower on my own lawns," said Steve Kilbride of The Kindest Cut. "It's not like your grandfather's mower — it's not made out of iron. They make very lightweight versions now. There is a savings on gas, there is also a savings on environmental impact. Power mowers do not have to have catalytic converters as automobiles do. Pound-for-pound, they are much bigger polluters than automobiles."

"For cleaning up afterwards, we are using good old rakes and brooms," Kilbride said. "It is very possible to save money and be environmentally friendly. It is in fact a win-win situation."