The movement within the most progressive landscape companies is to find ways to help their customers save water; they may be promoting upgrading some zones with drip lines already. And let’s face it: drip irrigation is a much better way to water flowerbeds and garden areas of your landscape! Your plants get water right where they want and need it – at the roots – with less lost to wind, evaporation, or runoff into the street. The advantages of drip irrigation are many, and installation is easier than you may think if you are a DIY type who likes to save money rather than paying a contractor.
Come learn why drip is the latest ethic in water use for landscapes of all sizes. You will also get the “nuts and bolts” of installing – whether it’s converting existing spray heads or setting up a drip zone from your hose bib. With information about parts and tools needed, you can decide whether to self-install. Even if you choose to hire a contractor, you can feel more in control knowing the basic needs and processes. The workshop is FREE. REGISTRATION is required.
Drip irrigation is the smarter way to water. It’s the most effective way to deliver water directly to a plant’s root zone, resulting in lusher, healthier plants. No wonder it’s become a revolution in home landscaping. Oh, and you’ll save A LOT of water, time and money, too!
If you haven’t taken a dive into drip yet, perhaps it’s because drip systems seem intimidating – a lot of hoses and connectors and such. That’s understandable. But the reality is, drip systems are simple in concept, something any DIYer can install and manage themselves. All the parts you need can be found at your local home improvement store, an average system can be set up in a couple hours, and the cost is usually recouped in one season of watering.
A few basic fundamentals (like where drip works best), a step-by-step guideline with a parts list, and a few pro tips will have you set up for success. You’ll find all this and more at the …
If you’re considering hiring an installer for your new system, we still recommend you attend so you’ll know how to maintain your system and be able to add to it over time if you like.
During the workshop you can visit information booths, ask questions specific to your landscape, and learn how to get a 50% rebate on your drip purchases applied to your Woodlands Water bill. Did you know you can get rebates on native plants, rain barrels, smart water controllers, and rain sensors, too? We’ll show you how.
The workshop is free but registration is required to receive the Zoom link.
Date: Saturday, March 5, 2022
Location: Online via Zoom
Time: 9 to 11 a.m.
Presenter: John Taylor, President – Green Industry Solutions
Automated sprinkler systems are the way to go if you are only watering you lawn. But most of us also have garden and flower beds to add beauty and functionality to our landscapes. This is where drip irrigation systems really shine! Drip out performs sprinkler heads hands-down when it comes to irrigating the parts of your yard that don’t have grass.
A spray head waters from the top down. Most plants don’t like to be watered on the leaves; it can promote the spread of fungal disease. Directing water to the base of the plant makes the water more readily available for uptake by the roots, resulting in healthier plants with less water.
Sprinkler heads supply uneven watering to your garden. Drip lines apply water precisely and reliably. Each part of a drip system can deliver an exact flow rate. It’s easy to match each plant’s needs with the right amount of flow; not too much, not too little.
A study by Colorado State University found that drip irrigation exceeds 90% efficiency. A sprinkler system is between 50-70% efficient at best.
Back to those lawns for just a minute: It’s a good idea to routinely check your sprinkler system. The spray heads require regular adjustments to keep the water where you want it – on the lawn and not the street. Misdirected water from improperly aligned spray heads leads to costly runoff – water wasted. And the setting matters too. Spray that is too fine evaporates faster – as much as 30% can be lost. Be diligent about keeping your sprinkler heads tuned up and efficient.
Still not convinced it’s worth the effort? Converting a spray zone to drip is easier than you think. Most homeowners can set up a full system by themselves with supplies readily available from your local hardware store. If converting the entire yard all at once is too big a project, install it in phases, one zone at a time. Attaching a drip line to a hose faucet makes it even easier. Each of these options will give you healthier plants, waste less water, and lower your water bill.
As a bonus, if you live within the areas of the Township that are served by Woodlands Water Agency (formerly Woodlands Joint Powers Agency – WJPA), you are eligible for a rebate on your drip irrigation purchases. Turn in your receipts to receive up to 50% of the purchase price as a rebate on your next water bill (up to a maximum of $150). Check with WWA for more details on this offer. Now that really is a winner!
If you’re ready to learn how easy it is to install or convert to drip irrigation, we have the class for you! On Saturday, March 7, The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department presents a workshop on Drip Irrigation at The Woodlands Emergency Training Center, located at 16135 IH-45 South, Conroe 77385. Local Drip Irrigation specialists will explain the advantages, the nuts and bolts f planning and offer hands-on demonstrations of assembling the needed parts to create a drip system for your yard and gardens.
This is always a popular workshop and space is limited. Sign up early to save your seat. Class details and registration available online at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment. For questions, call Environmental Services at 281-210-3800.
Back in November, Andy, a resident of The Woodlands Township, told me he’d made a conscious effort to reduce water consumption in his yard some time ago. He was adding more and more natives to save on water usage and to create habitat at the same time. I wondered how successful he had been, so I inquired about the status of his burgeoning ecosystem. Here’s the update:
Andy has only a small area of turf grass, specifically Zoysia. This is a grass species that doesn’t tolerate a lot of shade, but is otherwise a good choice for our weather. It tends to stay lower growing and needs far less water than the traditional St. Augustine.
Although a few non-native plants and shrubs remain in Andy’s yard, lots of native vegetation has been added. To support pollinators, native flowering plants were added in bunches so bees and butterflies can easily find them, and host plants were mixed in so that caterpillars (future butterflies) have a food source. Andy’s observed a significant increase in pollinators and birds this last year.
Andy converted much of his sprinkler system to drip irrigation, assuring his plants and grasses don’t get over watered. And he can easily avoid watering areas that consist solely of native plants – they don’t need it.
Andy subscribes to Weekly Watering Recommendation emails from Woodlands Water (formerly Woodlands Joint Powers Agency – WJPA) to tell him just how much, if any, water his lawn needs each week. When he does water his lawn he does it in three-minute cycles with breaks in between. This allows the water to soak into the soil, avoiding run-off.
Andy told me he avoids chemicals in his landscape, except on occasion when the nut-sedges try to take over his Zoysia. Otherwise, he’s careful to avoid anything that could be harmful to the pollinators and birds that visit. Twice-a-year applications of mulch to his beds help maintain the moisture level, reducing the need for watering while also deterring weeds. He noted that he sees few insect pests thanks to the many beneficial insects that now live in his gardens.
Andy reduced his water consumption by 11,000 gallons a year by implementing these changes. And, he hasn’t stopped there. He’s been finding ways to avoid water waste inside the home, as well. By installing simple low-flow faucet aerators, fixing leaky toilets, reducing shower time and minimizing waste water in the kitchen, his two-person household now uses less than 60 gallons-a-day, on average. Compare that to the national average of 180 gallons a day!
Considering trying some of Andy’s ideas and transforming your yard into an ecosystem? Here are some things to know:
Benefits of Native Grasses
Our native grasses provide great “texture” in a habitat for birds and butterflies. Providing grasses in multiple heights and native varieties creates resting places, nesting places, and shelter from predators. More than a simple food source, grasses provide a safe space for wildlife.
The Zoysia grass in Andy’s yard receives controlled amounts of water by hand. Overwatering is avoided encouraging the roots to grow deeper in to the soil in search of nutrients. As a result, the grass is greener and more resistant to disease.Native grasses not only require less water but support healthier waterways, too. As rainwater runs across your yard, the grass filters out debris on its way to the storm drain. Keep in mind that any chemicals used in your yard will also wash into the storm drain. Use compost and mulch instead of fertilizers and weed killers to reduce chemical runoff.
Reducing Chemical Use
Pollinators and other beneficial insects don’t do well in landscapes where chemicals are present. Research shows that many of the commonly used chemicals persist longer than originally believed. More than 90% of pollen samples from bee hives in this study were contaminated with multiple pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified a number of effective alternatives to pesticides and herbicides. Check here for a list of resources.
Tools and Resources
The Woodlands Township has a variety of water saving and native plant resources to help you transform your yard, just like Andy. Now is the time to plant trees, before the warmth of spring and new blooms appear. The best time to integrate native plants into your yard is during the spring and fall.
Simple tools, like a rain gauge, are great for ensuring your grass is getting the right amount of water. Stop by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department’s office (8203 Millennium Forest Drive) to pick one up for FREE. We’re open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Don’t forget that The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department has a full schedule of FREE programs and classes this spring that can help you transform your yard into your very own flourishing ecosystem. From drip irrigation and invasive plant removal to pest management and organic vegetable gardening, if you are inspired by Andy’s story to change your yard, let us help!
Thanks to Andy for letting me tell his story! If you would like to comment, or wish to contact Teri MacArthur, the Water Conservation Specialist for the Township, with your story, email to: email@example.com or call 281-210-3928.
Every day more and more residents of The Woodlands Township are turning off their sprinkler systems for the winter. Letting grass “rest” for the cooler months is a trend that continues to spread. From soil scientists to turf grass specialists, all agree a “no watering” policy helps cultivate deeper roots and stronger grass while the grass goes dormant.
So, what does that mean for your yard? First off, don’t fertilize during the winter; it makes your grass lazy. By adding nutrients, your grass spends its energy staying green, rather than turning brown and concentrating on improving the root system. Secondly, don’t water your grass. Just like fertilizing, roots become lazy when they find moisture easily in shallow soil. By not watering, they reach deeper into the soil where microbes are working to recycle nutrients though decomposition and moisture is available.
When you turn off your sprinkler system, you will find you will not need to water your gardens and flower beds at all, or not as often as you think. Use a manual hose-end sprinkler if your landscaped bed needs some moisture.
One resident, Andy, reported saving 11,000 gallons of water in one year by turning off the sprinkler system and using drip irrigation in its place.
Last year, nearly 700 residents took the pledge to turn off their sprinkler systems from mid-October to mid-April. Many of these water-conscious residents have reported their lawns are better than ever! Perhaps it’s time for YOU to join them. If you are a resident of The Woodlands, your pledge also becomes a point for your Village Association in the competition for scholarship funds. The benefits of turning off your system are plentiful: water savings, healthier yards, and the potential for your Village to present scholarships to college-bound students.
When you’re ready to pledge, the form is available ONLINE. And here’s a bonus: Once you pledge, pick up a free hose timer at the Environmental Services Office, located at 8203 Millennium Forest Drive, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.