Well, the city of Austin did it again, the lake levels have fallen over the summer, and we are in Stage 2 water restrictions. Last night the City of Austin posted a press release on their website.
We all like to have nice yards. I know when I moved here from California, the first thing I did was a lot of landscaping, and gardening. In northern California, where I was born and raised, you could grown anything. My grandma had quite the garden in her back yard, with everything from Lemon and Fig trees to a 10 foot tall cactus. Bulbs would bloom throughout the spring, and everything was lush and green.
As soon as I bought my house, my green thumb was activated, and I spent a lot of money on pretty bushes, bulbs, and perennials. I worked hard to amend the soil in my front yard and for the first year, everything looked incredible. I had the best yard on the block. A fantastic green lawn, pretty seasonal flowers would bloom and add color, and my trees were healthy and well watered.
Then I got my water bill for the summer, and I was paying 3x more than anyone else. The plants that I put in were not Texas natives, and although I was able to keep them alive with much work, it wasn’t the most efficient landscaping I could have done.
So the next year, I cut back on my watering, and as non-native plants would slowly cook in the Texas heat, I’d replace them with plants I I saw on this incredible gardening blog, or ones that I purchased at the Wildflower Center semi-annual sale, or that were recommended to me in this fantastic book Texas Home Landscaping (find it on Amazon). My yard began to require less water, and the plants could tolerate the brutal summer months, even on reduced watering.
These reduced watering schedules would have killed my old yard completely. I see many neighbors who are experiencing this. Their lawns turn brown, there are empty spaces in their planting beds, and nothing is blooming or flowering. That doesn’t have to be the case. Even with restricted watering
Even though, The summer of 2012 has gotten a bit more rain than usual (I know I haven’t had to water my front lawn as much) earlier in the yard. The city of Austin has put us on Stage 2 watering restrictions again. We got a lot of rain in the late spring, and even a couple of early summer showers to soak the ground, and keep everything green. There was even a big rainstorm during the downtown Art festival this year in April, and that was able to keep us going through most of the summer.
Thankfully, It looks like the city recognizes that we may be entering a stage of less rain, and more draught. In years past they have had 3 levels of water restrictions, but now, there are 4. On Aug 14 of 2012, the city voted for a new plan that recognizes the extremes in weather and works to protect our resources and keep the city’s urban landscape and tree canopy intact.
That’s new. The old system was quite severe in the times that people could water. Now under the new system, homeowners have a more flexible window and a few more options. You still have to follow the rules, and only water on your designated days (and violators can be reported with hefty fines), but the new system will fit more people’s schedule better.
Here’s a rundown of the Stage 2 watering restrictions:
- During Stage 2, the washing of vehicles at home is prohibited. If you need to wash a vehicle, you may do so at a commercial carwash facility.
- Charity car washes are prohibited
- Restaurants can only serve water upon request
- All fountains with either a fall or spray of water greater than four inches are prohibited; unless necessary to preserve aquatic life.
- All hose-end irrigation may take place between midnight and 10 a.m. and between 7 p.m. and midnight on your designated watering day.
- Your automatic irrigation system may operate between midnight and 5 a.m. and between 7 p.m. and midnight on your assigned day of the week. Please reduce your run times to ensure you can fit within this schedule.
- The use of drip irrigation is exempt from the schedule, due to increased efficiency.
- For the purposes of watering trees only, soaker hoses may be used under the drip-line of the tree canopy or you may use your automatic tree bubblers. Irrigation of trees in this manner is exempt from the watering schedule
- Commercial properties (including restaurants and bars) may only operate patio misters between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight; this includes but is not limited to restaurants and bars.
It is possible to have a great looking yard with the reduced watering schedule, you just have to do a little more planning, and select native plants.