Thoughts from a WaterSaver Coupon Pro

Guest Author

For one San Antonian the opportunity to create a landscape that saves water and serves as an oasis for people and wildlife convinced him to take advantage of the SAWS coupons. Here’s his story.

By Rebecca Jost

Now that a new round of WaterSaver Landscape and Patioscape Coupons is about to start, we thought we’d highlight a customer who combined our spring/summer coupons to successfully transform his yard from a water-hungry grass landscape to an oasis of drought-hardy plants that provides habitat for wildlife in the area.

The backstory: Mike Tayloe is passionate about gardening and creating natural habitats for the wildlife in his neighborhood. But his backyard was a sea of turf grass, complete with an irrigation system to quench its never-ending thirst. And it wasn’t attracting wildlife as much as he would’ve liked.

The plan: For Tayloe, conserving water was the draw and what ultimately convinced him to make a change in his landscape. It didn’t make sense to him to have all that Bermuda grass when he could have an equally gorgeous landscape made up of water-friendly plants. His plan was to tear out all of the Bermuda grass and replace it with as many different types of drought-tolerant plants as possible.

The plant selection process: One of Tayloe’s main goals was for his yard to be a habitat for the wildlife in his neighborhood. He achieved this by choosing plants that encourage wildlife to visit and stay awhile. Tayloe chose milkweed for caterpillars and butterflies, and frog fruit for groundcover because butterflies enjoy it. Beyond his plant choice, he also included structures that wildlife can use as habitats. One of the main features of Tayloe’s backyard is a bubbling river water feature that gives birds a water source to drink and bathe in. He also has all of the planters and pots in the front yard set on bricks to provide a place for Texas toads and lizards to beat the heat and escape predators.

The challenges: Things go wrong all the time when gardening. Tayloe says “everything I do is an experiment.” His gardening philosophy is to “build something and see if it works. If not, take it out.” One of the biggest challenges he faced was the persistent Bermuda grass. When Tayloe was placing the river rock in his backyard, some Bermuda grass escaped the weed barrier treatment and started sprouting up between the rocks. His suggestion for other gardeners attempting to completely removing their Bermuda grass? Be thorough the first time around! It’s much harder to get rid of the pesky stuff when it’s growing up around the rocks.

The success: Using the WaterSaver Landscape Coupon, Tayloe chose the plants he needed. He also took advantage of SAWS Irrigation Design Rebate to remove the entire irrigation system. He no longer had a need for it since the plants he selected were happier with hand watering.

Feel like you’re ready to try your hand at making your landscape more water friendly? The fall edition of the WaterSaver Landscape and Patioscape Coupon starts Sept. 1, so keep an eye out for them.

Rebecca Jost is a conservation intern with San Antonio Water System.

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