Dreary Landscape? The Drought May Not Be the Only Culprit.

Let’s face it. Our landscapes don’t look so hot this year. The most obvious reason is the lack of rain. But does your yard look worse than expected? There could be something else going on.

Frequent watering can conceal vulnerabilities in landscapes that drought conditions will expose. Here are a few other issues to consider:

  • Brown patches in the lawn – This could be due to lack of soil. Thin soils are incapable of retaining moisture. Add 1/2 inch of loam soil in early fall and build it up over time.
  • Struggling drought-tolerant plants – Improper plant establishment creates shallow root development. Water lightly and frequently to establish correctly. Then, switch to deep, infrequent watering to encourage root development. Hand-watering is the most effective method.
  • Incorrect plant selection – Native plants have inherent mechanisms to survive droughts, and some even thrive in dry, hot conditions. Anything else will likely perish in less-than-ideal conditions.
  • Bad site selection – A shade-loving plant will always prefer and thrive in a shady spot. Know your plants’ preferred site conditions and don’t expect more than they’re naturally capable of.

Observe what your landscape is showing you as it struggles through the drought. Make simple improvements now and start planning larger, more extensive changes for when we finally get some relief from this dry spell.

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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