Is this beautiful spring weather luring you outside into your garden? Don't let the recent rains wash your memory clean of those painful watering bills of the summer of 2009! The drought may have been declared over officially, but summer in Texas is still, well, summer in Texas.
The City of Austin is eager to help you splash less of Lake Travis on your yard this year. If you have an underground sprinkler system and use more than 25,000 gallons of water a month, you qualify for a free irrigation audit, which would otherwise cost you anywhere from $60-$100. After your audit, if you're inspired to become water stingy, you'll want to install some of the plants featured in the City of Austin's beautiful booklet Native and Adapted Landscape Plants: an Earthwise Guide for Central Texas. Boxes of the guide were delivered to all Austin Public Libraries, but call your branch before you go pick up your free copy; they go fast. (You can see the plant list from the guide online.)
Let the city help you replace some of the water you won’t be sucking from the lake by catching rainwater in city-subsidized barrels, and use the city’s list of wet-and-dry-tolerant plants to create a rain garden so that the water that falls on your land trickles into the aquifer instead of racing down the street into the sewer. (The library also has these city-published booklets: Green Neighbor: Clean Creek Challenge and Green Neighbor: Green City Challenge, with more advice for living lightly on our watershed.)
Take a look at the city’s environmental portal; it aggregates all of Austin’s programs, rebates, publications, demonstrations, lists, and tips. It'll keep you surfing for hours. And be sure to re-read this excellent blog on water conservation from another of your Austin Public librarians: Dig Holes.
Have a drier and a cheaper summer.