New City of Dallas Watering Restrictions. No need to panic.

Nov 14, 2011

Some of you may be aware that the City of Dallas, and other cities, will be entering Stage 1 watering restrictions on Dec. 12, 2011, meaning residents can use their sprinklers just two days a week. 

While I realize that this may send some of you into a bit of a watering panic, you really don't need to worry. This watering schedule is business as usual in winter.  In our climate here in N. Texas, you rarely need to water established landscapes more than once per week, if it isn't raining. New plantings will usually only need 1 extra hand watering to get established, again, if it isn't raining. 

It's not about how many times per week you water. It's whether or not you're delivering enough water during that individual watering. Your goal is to deliver 1" worth of rainfall per week on established landscape plants. This can usually be accomplished by running your  sprinkler system for anywhere from about 40 minutes to 1 hour, in one watering. If your soil won't absorb that much water all at once, then simply split that time into two watering cycles, with a break in between, on the same day. This is much more effective than watering 3 or 4 times per week for 10 or 15 mintues...this kind of shallow watering only encourages shallow weak root systems (resulting in plants that need more water) and wastes water.

Here are links to a couple of detailed posts I've written on proper watering techniques:

Proper Watering Q & A

Proper Watering in Texas Heat

Even with Stage 2 or 3 Restrictions in place, you will still be able to keep your established landscape healthy if you follow proper watering advice. Just remember, it's not about frequency, it's about depth of watering. Even with the summer we just had, if you'd watered deeply, once per week, established turf, shrubs and trees would have been fine.

Obviously, smaller herbaceous material and newly planted material will need supplemental watering. This can be accomplished using TreeGator bags on new trees and shrubs (or any that have been planted in the last several years) can also use slow drip tips that fit onto reused soda bottles to put in containers or raised veggie beds. You'll fill these containers on your approved watering day. You can even use something as simple as a milk jug with a few small holes poked in the bottom.

Install Rainbarrels now to capture rainfall. Water restrictions do not apply to rain water - you may use rainwater as you please. The restrictions only apply to treated municipal water.

So, take away is don't panic. I will be teaching a number of upcoming "watering workshops" at North Haven Gardens to teach you about the upcoming restrictions and how to maintain a beautiful landscape within those restrictions. NHG will also be hosting a "Heat Hardy Series" that will include my and other staff's watering programs, plus programs on heat hardy plant selection, design, and much more. This series will start in December and continue through 2012. Keep an eye on the NHG calendar for upcoming programs - it will be updated later today.

Here is what I'm putting on the books right now:

Wed 12/14/11 @ Noon-1pm : "Water Right" Workshop L. Halleck, at NHG

Sat 1/14/12 @ 11am-noon  : "Water Right" Workshop, L. Halleck, at NHG

Sat 1/14/12 @ 2:30-3:30pm : Spring Vegetables Planting Guide, L. Halleck, at NHG

Wed 1/18/12 @ 11-11:45 : "Water Right" Workshop, L. Halleck, at NHG

Wed 1/18/12 @ noon-1:30 : How to grow Tomatoes, L. Halleck at NHG

Thurs 2/9/12 @ 1pm-4pm : Vegetable Gardens 101 ($25 registration fee) L. Halleck, at NHG

Sat 2/18/12 @ 10am-11am : "Water Right" Workshop, L. Halleck, at NHG

Sat 2/18/12 1pm, Edible Ornamentals, L. Halleck, Texas Organic Farming and Gardening Association Conference, Mesquite Convention Center.

Sat 4/21/12 @ 1pm-2pm : Edible Ornamentals, L. Halleck at NHG

I'll be adding more dates I'm sure. I'll update all my class listings at Halleck Horticultural

There are 3 comments for this entry

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Tattoo Designs
Dec 14, 2011
2:25 pm

Whoah this blog is great i love reading your articles. Keep up the great work! You know, many people are hunting around for this information, you can help them greatly.

Dec 14, 2011
11:30 pm

From what I recently read in the Dallas Morning News, the new water restrictions (2 days/week) does NOT include an exception for hand watering. Not even for potted plants. Perhaps I read this wrong. Perhaps the DMN reported it incorrectly. Or perhaps it’s true. Just to spread the credit around, I believe that I also heard this on one or more of the local tv news shows.

Leslie Finical Halleck
Dec 15, 2011
7:02 pm

Now that the restrictions have been fully published by the city and are in effect, and I’ve reviewed the city’s documents,(back when I originally wrote the post, the city had not fully updated/published it’s full plan…and I don’t take anything I read in the DMN or any other paper, or tv station, as a given, lol)I can confirm that they do restrict hand watering to your assigned days…but do not restrict watering of your foundation (or any plants that happen to be up against your foundation) via drip, soaker or hand watering on any day.

They do not address container plantings specifically as far as I can tell. The wording only addresses “landscaped areas”. I supposed that is open to interpretation.

Also, there is no written restriction for you using recycled rain water, that you collect in rain barrels or other devices, whenever you want. Or grey water from your home for that matter. I will be recycling bath water or other water from my kitchen to apply by hand wherever and whenever I need it.

So I would suggest installing rain barrels (which you can purchase tax free). Nor does it address using devices like Gator Bags, which are slow drip bags, but they are not hooked up to any irrigation. As long as you fill them on your assigned days, you should be able to use them for new tree/shrub plantings.

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