This class, held last Saturday, August 13, 2013, at the Valley Ranch Office, was very well attended. There were 40+ in attendance. The class was conducted by Patrick Dickinson, Program Coordinator at Texas A&M AgriLife and was offered free to all those who attended. The class lasted for two hours, but could easily have been extended as residents had lots of questions regarding our tough Texas drought landscapes. According to Patrick, the single most important endeavor one can make in managing any landscape is to prepare the soil. He emphasized this throughout the class. Your plants are only as good as the foundation they have been planted in. In order to properly prepare the soil, it is important to know what minerals or nutrients your soil is missing or abundant in. A soil test is in order. Patrick provided soil sample bags and forms to help diagnose the soil in your landscape. There are still a few available at the Valley Ranch Association office. The samples can be sent to:
Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory
College Station, TX 77843
The cost is only $10.00 per sample. The form can be downloaded at: http://www.soiltesting.tamu.edu
The second factor that Patrick stressed is to have a plan on paper. This plan will keep you from buying impulsively when browsing the nursery. The plan will also force one to investigate the most appropriate plant for the space it will be planted in. Factors such as height, width, sun, shade, drought tolerant and hardiness zone will all come into play when properly planning the overall design.
According to Patrick, the same principles applied to interior design should also be applied to exterior design. Section off spaces to mimic rooms. Plant vertically with trellises to mimic walls. Have continuity throughout, with colors or styles. And finally, consider reducing the lawn to only 1/3 of the overall landscape. Lawns are the thirstiest plant in the landscape. Reducing lawns with plant beds can reduce water by as much as 60%. Some of our homeowners have already caught on and have transformed the entire front lawn into shrub/flower beds, minus the grass. As water becomes more scarce, this trend will become more prevalent in the future.
Patrick will be back again February 1, 2014, to conduct a class on Sprinkler Basics. More info will be forthcoming as to when registration will begin.