Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Water Quality Makes a Difference

By Plantsy Drew

Did you notice how the grass greened up after the rain? Even after watering restrictions, which included the city of Austin limiting landscape irrigation to 1 day a week? Does that tell you anything? Using all that treated water in your landscapes was not necessary. Most of our plants are resilient to environmental stressors. Think about it, the plants are also somewhat resilient to all that treated water with its salts, chlorine and chlorine by-products. Lawns that had gone dormant and turned brown immediately turned green, practically the day after the rains began. This is due to two factors.

The first of which is natural rainwater. Rain is a slight bit acidic, it has a slight bit lower ph than our treated water and local water after it has sat in the lake or from our wells. Our lake and well water is higher in ph due to the limestone container. In addition, the ground around central Texas is more alkaline (higher ph) so a slight elevation of acidity in the form of rainwater is excellent nourishment to our landscapes. As a result of a wonderful rain, our plants returned to a vibrant healthy green glow.

Secondly, with the rain came reduced temperatures, day and night time. The lower night-time temperature really makes a difference. Most of our natives are thoroughly adapted to the climate, no matter what. Some natives are happier with a lower night-time temperature. Most of the non-native plants we use greatly appreciate a lower night-time temperature. With the prolonged heat this summer, everything was warmed up: soil, roads, buildings and plants. If the temperature does not drop a reasonable amount at night, then the stress in greatly increased on the plant’s living system. Think about it, weren’t you stressed, angry, more tired than usual because of the extended hot temperatures this summer? (oh, was that just me?) Weren’t you confounded when you walked outside at 10pm expecting to enjoy night air, or take that evening stroll but it was still 95 degrees? It makes a huge difference, physiologically and psychologically.

Although all the rain has improved the appearance of our surroundings, it has not significantly raised our lake levels which provide our drinking water. Therefore, water restrictions are still in effect. But it is my advice, that you not worry about watering at all. Save the money and energy needed to treat water. With the lower temperatures there is far less evaporation from the ground and plants and therefore more water remaining available in the landscape.

Enjoy the weather!

© 2009 Ginger Hudson

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