A WaterSmart landscapes focuses on three main principles: conserving water, improving water quality and providing habitat for wildlife. This is achieved by using native and adapted plants, using little to no fertilizers and pesticides, utilizing less water and requiring less maintenance. There are many different types of WaterSmart landscape options for you to choose from to implement in your yard. Many of your local parks have WaterSmart gardens for you to look at for inspiration. Some of these landscape inspirations may include: rain gardens, native plants, rainwater harvesting systems, vegetated buffers, and permeable walkways and driveways. (more…)
Archive for the ‘native plants’ Category
Water restrictions may be a way of life for some time, yet, this does not mean our landscapes must evolve into gravel and cactus. It is time to take a new look at how we prepare and maintain our landscapes making them more resilient and more WaterSmart, especially during our hot summer months. (more…)
From sprinkler to storm drain, from bayou to bay, the water used to maintain your yard remains untreated. What you do to your lawn and what runs off it determines the health of your local bayou and Galveston Bay. Runoff from residential areas in the Galveston Bay watershed is the No. 1 source of water pollution in most of our bayous. However, you can take steps to reduce the pollution that flows off your yard by adopting WaterSmart practices.
A WaterSmart yard uses plants and practices that require little or no fertilizers or pesticides and less water than conventional lawns. With minimal grass cover and maximum use of native and adapted plants, the WaterSmart landscape can be beautiful, easy to maintain, and environmentally friendly.
WaterSmart landscapes can reduce the amount of polluted runoff entering the storm drain system by 90 percent. They can also cut the amount of water you use for irrigation by 90 percent. By converting your lawn one section at a time, you can create a landscape that helps preserve the bay area and gradually reduces your maintenance time. (more…)
From the name of a greek goddess, to its use by Claude Monet within his famous garden and paintings, and further to its popular status as a diverse horticultural variety or cultivar, the Iris has widespread play within our culture and (more importantly) our natural world.
According to Correll and Correll (the authority on the aquatic and wetland plants of Southwestern US), there are “more than 200 species in the Northern Hemisphere.” We are lucky enough to have several native Iris species within our region, including Iris virginica, Iris brevicaulis, and Iris fulva. Both Iris virginica and Iris brevicaulis have the typical blue-purple and gold color pattern, whereas Iris fulva is distinctively coppery red in color and equally attractive. It is worth noting that our one unfortunate invasive Iris (Iris pseudacorus, which is native to Europe, western Asia and northwest Africa) has a large bright yellow flower, and reproduces rapidly via rhizomes and seeds, and we must be aware of this noxious invader.
My first encounter with Irises came as a SCA/Americorps intern at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge. Driving around Moccasin pond, I marveled at the pretty Iris blooms along the pond edge, intermingled with the native Canna (Canna glauca). The pond was teeming with life and flowers. Later, I took my godmother and my mom on a similar tour around the pond, and they also enjoyed the floral display (as well as the sunbathing gators strewn over the road edges).
As part of my restoration work at Sheldon Lake State Park and other sites around Galveston Bay, I have used only the two “blue” species–Iris virginica and Iris brevicaulis. Each species is specific to a region and habitat….where I. virginica can handle some salinity (fresh to brackish tidal conditions) and the coastal soils, I. brevicaulis finds its niche within the partial shady edges of forests. These showy natives bloom late spring to early summer, but their bright green to silvery green foliage can remain year-round. They are both considered obligate wetland plants making them ideal for wetland restoration in their appropriate place within the natural landscape.
When spring returns to our area early next year, be sure to seek out and admire these classic flowering wetland natives.