Archive for the ‘WaterSmart Landscapes’ Category

Pier and Beam house-Daniel

The author’s son Daniel holds the line level with the first floor of our house in Eastwood.

Staying out of the floodplain is the number one measure that Houston needs to take to reduce impacts from flooding. Overbank flooding from the creeks and bayous is the deepest and most serious kind of flooding. But anywhere in Houston is subject to street or sheet flooding, the kind that occurs when the amount of rain exceeds the capacity of the storm drains. If an Allison lands in your neighborhood–40 inches in ONE day, not 4 like Harvey –and you are not elevated above the level of street flooding, you will get water in your house even if you are far from a bayou or a floodplain. A storm well short of Allison could do the same. (more…)

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As the issues of water quality and habitat loss become more critical, many people are adopting a natural approach to home landscaping. Natural landscapes, also called habitat gardens, consist mainly of native plants. They can take many forms, ranging from wild and unkempt to a more traditional, manicured design.

Occasionally, conflicts over these landscapes have arisen in neighborhoods, homeowner associations, and cities. But such conflicts need not be inevitable. You may be able to avoid “weed wars” by setting an example through good communication and proper maintenance practices.

Below are some strategies for fostering communication and education to help avoid confrontation before, during, and after you develop your natural landscape.

Learn the rules. Before converting your yard into a habitat garden, become familiar with the local ordinances, policies, and deed restrictions governing residential areas. Understand the process of applying for a variance or permit as well as the appeals process, if needed. This information is readily available from city parks departments, homeowner association offices, or property management companies.

Learn the benefits of natural landscapes. Know what you want to accomplish in changing your landscape. You will be better able to answer the “why” questions as well as capitalize on opportunities to win support and possible converts.

Educate others. Find ways to inform others by word and deed. Welcome questions from neighbors, create a landscape that others will want to use as an example, and participate at homeowner association or community association meetings.

Change gradually. You could begin by placing a few native plants along the borders of a bed. A next step might be to enlarge the landscape beds a bit each year, to gradually accustom your neighbors to the new approach.

Communicate with neighbors. Let them know about your plans, and keep the conversations positive. For instance, you could give updates to the neighbors as the landscape progresses. Welcoming neighborhood children to learn about your landscape could generate excitement that they could transfer to the adults.

Use identification tags on plants if possible. Those who are unfamiliar with native plants may think they look odd or unruly. Plant tags can introduce them to new types of plants, give prominence to natives in the landscape, and offer an instant source of education.

Check back next month for Part 2.

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To attract wildlife to your landscape, you need to provide them with food, water, shelter, and places to raise their young. Feeders, birdbaths, and native plants can help you meet these needs and create a haven for wildlife in your backyard. (more…)

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Cistern DSC_3303

Rainwater harvesting is an alternate water supply and stormwater management approach anyone can use. Rainwater harvesting captures, diverts, and stores rainwater for later use. You can collect rainwater in a large cistern, tank or barrel.

Implementing rainwater harvesting is beneficial because it reduces demand on existing water supply, and reduces run-off, erosion, and contamination of surface water. Rainwater harvesting can reduce the amount of drinking water used for landscape irrigation. (more…)

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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…)

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