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Master Gardener: Wise water usage

In recompiling this article, the original header mentioned a period of serious drought our area suffered several years ago. This year, it’s just the reverse. A person should not wait until a drought lowers available water to make moves toward water-wise conservation. (According to a recent article, Fort Smith residents better not forget they had year round water conservation measures voted in, in 2007 that include increased fees for increased water usage.)

Sufficient water is key to good fruit and vegetable production. Water is more effective when efficiently delivered to the roots; you risk disease problems if water is sprayed over foliage. Installation of drip hoses during the growing season ensures adequate water during periods of drought.

In-ground watering systems are the preferred method for keeping lawns green during this time. Pricing and/or installation depending upon the sophistication of the set-up are within many household’s means. Callibrate to accommodate the rainfall that occurs in a given period and set spray pattern to cover lawn, not the driveway or street.

Remember earlier I also mentioned the capturing of rainwater through the use of covered barrels. Hoses can be attached at their spigot to direct water to needed areas or you can get the grandkids in on the act and set up a watering can brigade. (The plants don’t need to be the only ones getting wet!)

Going native in the landscape gives you the advantage of having plants already adapted to our area’s temperatures and rainfall.

If you choose to incorporate non-natives, look for trees and shrubbery with thick leaves - they will withstand a drought better. Vines like Mandevilla, trumpet creeper and bougainvillea flourish in high heat and need less watering. Check into the widening array of sedums available at the nursery as well. Other bedding plants to consider include verbena, plumbago, gaura and lantana.

A quiet walk in the yard is one of nature’s simplest therapeutic ways of refreshing the spirit. Get out outside and enjoy!

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