Landscaping Lingo

The gardening world is filled with confusing landscaping lingo, such as different names for the same plant and terms that are used separately and interchangeably. Mix in SAWS conservation goals and the City of San Antonio conservation ordinance, and the confusion grows. We’re here to help.

One of the goals of and our newsletter is to provide you with the tools to help you create a landscape that’s beautiful and saves water. That includes decoding some of the jargon. So, here goes.

  • Year-round watering restrictions — in place all year as long as the Edwards Aquifer is above 660 feet. Be aware, if you’re caught in violation of any of the restrictions listed — watering outside the designated hours — you can receive a citation. More drastic restrictions (Stage 1-4) are declared when the aquifer drops below 660 feet.
  • Past peak plants — those that are beyond their most attractive stage. In other words, no matter how much water you add, they will not produce as many blooms as they did during their peak season.
  • Compost — decomposed organic matter from manures, vegetation or both; resembles rich soil and can be incorporated into soil.
  • Mulch — may be organic (wood chips) or inorganic (small rocks, decomposed granite), but generally it is organic material that has not decomposed. Mulch is never incorporated into the soil, but rather placed on the surface.

Are there other terms you’d like defined or explained? Let us know! Drop us a line at 

Picture of Juan Soulas
Juan Soulas
Juan Soulas is a conservation planner for San Antonio Water System. Since joining SAWS in 2007 his duties have focused on residential water use. He works with his Conservation colleagues to help customers find ways to reduce outdoor usage without compromising the health and aesthetic quality of their landscapes. Juan also coordinates engaging outreach efforts with SAWS’ conservation partners -- Bexar County Master Gardeners, Gardening Volunteers of South Texas, San Antonio Botanical Garden and Mitchell Lake Audubon Center – to increase community access to vital conservation information.
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