Some of you may be aware that the City of Dallas, and other cities, will be entering Stage 1 watering restrictions on Dec. 12, 2011, meaning residents can use their sprinklers just two days a week.
While I realize that this may send some of you into a bit of a watering panic, you really don't need to worry. This watering schedule is business as usual in winter. In our climate here in N. Texas, you rarely need to water established landscapes more than once per week, if it isn't raining. New plantings will usually only need 1 extra hand watering to get established, again, if it isn't raining.
It's not about how many times per week you water. It's whether or not you're delivering enough water during that individual watering. Your goal is to deliver 1" worth of rainfall per week on established landscape plants. This can usually be accomplished by running your sprinkler system for anywhere from about 40 minutes to 1 hour, in one watering. If your soil won't absorb that much water all at once, then simply split that time into two watering cycles, with a break in between, on the same day. This is much more effective than watering 3 or 4 times per week for 10 or 15 mintues...this kind of shallow watering only encourages shallow weak root systems (resulting in plants that need more water) and wastes water.
Here are links to a couple of detailed posts I've written on proper watering techniques:
Even with Stage 2 or 3 Restrictions in place, you will still be able to keep your established landscape healthy if you follow proper watering advice. Just remember, it's not about frequency, it's about depth of watering. Even with the summer we just had, if you'd watered deeply, once per week, established turf, shrubs and trees would have been fine.
Obviously, smaller herbaceous material and newly planted material will need supplemental watering. This can be accomplished using TreeGator bags on new trees and shrubs (or any that have been planted in the last several years)..you can also use slow drip tips that fit onto reused soda bottles to put in containers or raised veggie beds. You'll fill these containers on your approved watering day. You can even use something as simple as a milk jug with a few small holes poked in the bottom.
Install Rainbarrels now to capture rainfall. Water restrictions do not apply to rain water - you may use rainwater as you please. The restrictions only apply to treated municipal water.
So, take away is don't panic. I will be teaching a number of upcoming "watering workshops" at North Haven Gardens to teach you about the upcoming restrictions and how to maintain a beautiful landscape within those restrictions. NHG will also be hosting a "Heat Hardy Series" that will include my and other staff's watering programs, plus programs on heat hardy plant selection, design, and much more. This series will start in December and continue through 2012. Keep an eye on the NHG calendar for upcoming programs - it will be updated later today.
Here is what I'm putting on the books right now:
Wed 12/14/11 @ Noon-1pm : "Water Right" Workshop L. Halleck, at NHG
Sat 1/14/12 @ 11am-noon : "Water Right" Workshop, L. Halleck, at NHG
Sat 1/14/12 @ 2:30-3:30pm : Spring Vegetables Planting Guide, L. Halleck, at NHG
Wed 1/18/12 @ 11-11:45 : "Water Right" Workshop, L. Halleck, at NHG
Wed 1/18/12 @ noon-1:30 : How to grow Tomatoes, L. Halleck at NHG
Thurs 2/9/12 @ 1pm-4pm : Vegetable Gardens 101 ($25 registration fee) L. Halleck, at NHG
Sat 2/18/12 @ 10am-11am : "Water Right" Workshop, L. Halleck, at NHG
Sat 2/18/12 1pm, Edible Ornamentals, L. Halleck, Texas Organic Farming and Gardening Association Conference, Mesquite Convention Center.
Sat 4/21/12 @ 1pm-2pm : Edible Ornamentals, L. Halleck at NHG
I'll be adding more dates I'm sure. I'll update all my class listings at Halleck Horticultural