Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Help yards fight drought
By MARY COLLISTER
Published June 15, 2007
I'm sure your yard was as thankful as mine when the rains started two weeks ago. It is surprising how quickly the lawns can green up with a good rain. Even though we did have some much needed rain, we are far from being out of the drought. And since that is the case, it probably would be a good idea to review some ways to use less water in our landscapes.
1 Less grass: We have to start with this one, as grass probably uses more water than any other aspect of our yards. Grass is beautiful when well-maintained, but well-maintained in Florida usually means more water and more chemicals than we should be using. There are other ground covers we should look at to replace at least some of our lawns. Now, if you need an area for flag football or a place for a dog to run free, you may need to save a large patch of turf. Ground covers can replace lawn and may include plant material from just a few inches tall such as woolly thyme or ivy to low growing shrubs reaching perhaps 18 to 24 inches. You may want to consider a number of vines such as creeping fig, confederate jasmine or sweet potato vine. If you want your ground cover to be a little taller try liriope, Knock Out (registered name) or Home Run (registered name) rose, ferns, or any number of perennials or low growing evergreens.
2 Increase the size of your plant beds: This will decrease the amount of grass, but make sure you use plants that require little supplemental water once established. It won't do any good to replace your sod with thirsty ornamental plants.
3 Native plants: Plants that are native to our area are going to survive better during the droughts. Use as many of these plants as possible. A good reference is the Web site of the Florida Native Plant Society, http://www.fnps.org/. You'll find lots of valuable information there.
4 Xeriscaping: This is simply using water-wise principles in our gardens. According to author Monica Brandies, there are seven basic tenets of Xeriscape gardening. These are: make a plan, improve the soil, irrigate efficiently, use practical turf areas, use drought tolerant plants, use mulches, and perform appropriate maintenance. These tenets appear to be no different than the principles for any type of responsible gardening.
5 Do not overwater: We can't control our rainy season, but when we have to use supplemental water, make sure not to overwater. Water deeply and then not again until needed. Frequent, shallow waterings lead to shallow roots, which won't reach deeper moist soil in a drought.
6 Enrich the soil: The healthier the soil, the better chance plants have to survive stress. Add lots of organic material every chance you get. Organic material will also improve the moisture retentiveness of the soil.
7Don't add new plant material or sod: Newly planted sod, trees and shrubs need frequent watering until established. Don't plant during a drought.
8Limit the number of annuals you plant. Ouch, this hurts me just to type it! I love annuals but they are thirsty, seasonal visitors and limiting the number you plant will help conserve water. Perhaps adding two beautiful containers overflowing with annuals near your front door where you can see them often will help wean us from the colorful, widespread planting we have come to love. Remember, you can water these containers with water used to boil potatoes, eggs, etc. in the kitchen. Of course, make sure the water cools before use.
9Water at appropriate times: The best time to water is early morning. There is usually less wind and the plant foliage has time to dry before nightfall. Foliage that is damp at night is more susceptible to diseases. Even if you use reclaimed water and do not have to adhere to the county or city's water rationing schedule, it is best not to water midday. This wastes water (evaporation) and can burn sensitive plants.
10 Use fewer plants: We may have to space our plants further apart so there is less competition for water.
11 Check irrigation system frequently: Make sure you aren't watering the sidewalks or street and the yard area is being properly covered when in use.
12 Change our idea of what constitutes a beautiful landscape: This will be the hardest change, but one we may need to embrace. Not to say that less lawn and annuals, native plants, and perhaps even fewer plants cannot be attractive. It just may take a while to get used to, and good garden design may become even more important.