Burn bans, drought effects and watering restrictions are on their way to becoming common topics in our daily conversations.

With drought plaguing the state, more and more people are looking into ways they can keep their gardens and lawns healthy while also conserving water.

Planning is the first step to having a beautiful waterwise garden. You should take into consideration sun, shade, wind and soil at specific locations throughout your property.

Plants with similar needs should be planted together. Doing so will save you time while maintaining your garden and will help the plants to thrive.

The type of plants you select for a garden that will survive Texas droughts don’t necessarily have to be Texas plants. Native plants survive our summers and long periods of droughts because they are indigenous. But adapted exotics can survive just as well and bring something new to your landscape.

When planting your ornamental grasses, shrubs and flowers, plant them according to water needs. For example, plants requiring the most water should be planted closest to the house or in low-lying areas. After that area, plant ones that are a little more drought tolerant to create a transition to ones that are most drought resistant. Your local garden center can assist you in picking out which drought tolerant plants and shrubs would be best for your landscape.

Although there are watering restrictions in most cities, it is still possible for your plants to flourish. In order to encourage strong root growth and in turn grow drought tolerant plants, they should only be watered once or twice a week. Infrequent but deep waterings help plants establish deep roots.

Keep moisture in the ground where it is needed by covering the garden soil with a layer of mulch. The mulch keeps the moisture in, keeps the roots cool and helps control weeds that compete with plantings for water. The best time to mulch is now. Mulching before the summer heat results in considerable water conservation.

Many lawns have turned brown due to the lack of rain and the increase in watering restrictions. Depending on the restriction stage, there are a number of actions you can take to help your grass survive the drought. The Texas A&M University Turf Program offers the following advice for certain levels of restrictions.

Stage I
Restricted hours; alternate day use depending on address number
Continue deep and infrequent waterings to establish and maintain deep roots; remove only 1/3 of the grass blade when mowing; reduce fertility programs and nitrogen levels
Stage II
Outdoor water usage limited to once a week
Same approach as Stage II; use a handheld hose to water areas that show signs of stress
Stage III
All outdoor water usage is prohibited, except for handheld hoses with manual valves
Use a hose to water areas of high priority or are showing severe signs of stress; cease watering the lawn to allow it to go dormant
Stage IV
All outdoor water usage is prohibited
Allow grass to go dormant

Maintaining your lawn and garden is just as important as prepping and planting. Proper maintenance will keep your landscape healthy and thriving even through the Texas heat and drought.