For The Answer
PRIMETIME NEWSPAPERS WEEKLY COLUMN
Week of June 4, 2001
By Calvin Finch, Conservation Director, San Antonio Water System, and Horticulturist
Almost everyone in the San Antonio area knows that xeriscape is not just cactus and rocks. Many xeriscapes are preserved native landscapes or are wildscapes to attract birds and butterflies. Xeriscape can have color 12 months of the year, it can be just as manicured as a traditional landscape dominated by St. Augustine grass and it can even include limited amounts of St. Augustine grass and other water loving plants.
Your xeriscape landscape can be what you want it to be as long as it reduces water use and the need for pesticides and maintenance. A professional can plan your xeriscape landscape for you or you can learn enough to do it by yourself. If you are a SAWS customer, the utility will provide 10 cents per square foot in the form of a rebate on the water bill towards the cost of converting your St. Augustine dominated yard to xeriscape or, better yet, SAWS will give you the 10 cents per square foot if you make your new yard a xeriscape landscape. Select zoysia, Bermuda or buffalo grass instead of St. Augustine on the new landscape and you will receive 5 cents per square foot if over 50 percent of the yard is grass, and 10 cents per square foot if over 50 percent is groundcovers, mulch, pervious hardscape, perennials and shrubs.
There are many sources of information on xeriscape landscapes. Almost every nursery in San Antonio offers the Bexar County Master Gardeners Xeriscape Conversion Guide for $5. It includes step by step instructions on how to convert the yard to xeriscape and a great plant list. The Master Gardeners offer a monthly two-hour Water Saver Landscape Rebate class at various locations around the city. The schedule for the next seven months is:
Saturday, June 9, 9 to 11 a.m., Brookhollow Library, 530 Heimer (496-6315)
Saturday, July 14, 2 p.m., McCreless Library, 1023 Ada St. (532-4254)
Saturday, August 11, 10 a.m. to noon, Bexar County Master Gardener/Extension Service Office, 3355 Cherry Ridge Dr., Suite 208 (467-6575)
Saturday, September 8, 10 a.m. until noon, Memorial Library, 3222 Culebra (432-6783)
Saturday, October 13, 1 to 3 p.m., Ronald Reagan HS Library, 20730 Huebner Rd. (482-2228)
Saturday, November 3, 2 to 4 p.m., Great Northwest Library, 9050 Wellwood (684-5251)
Tuesday, December 11, 7 to 9 p.m., Pan American Library, 1122 W. Pyron Ave. (924-8164)
Other groups including the Botanical Gardens, Northside ISD Adult Community Education, Northeast ISD Adult Community Education and SAWS also offer xeriscape related classes. Subscribe to the San Antonio Gardener newsletter (send $12 for 12 monthly issues to SAG, 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 208, San Antonio, TX 78230) for a complete listing of all gardening and landscape classes offered each month.
SAWS has free publications on wildscape and native plants. You can find them at area nurseries or call 704-7527 to have the information mailed.
The SAWS Water Saver Landscape Rebate application is available at the same phone number or is provided at almost any xeriscaping landscape event. The application is very easy to complete. You do not need an elaborate plan. After filing the completed application you have one year to file for the rebate. When the work is complete a Master Gardener volunteer will visit your landscape to verify the work is complete, that it is a low water use landscape, and that the square footage is accurate.
Some Water Saver Landscape Rebate issues to remember:
1. The rebate is available for new yards or converted yards of SAWS customers.
2. Mulch qualifies for the rebate even if you have not completed the planting.
3. Work completed after June 1994 qualifies.
4. Preserved native landscapes qualify.
5. Pervious hardscape like wood patios, brick without mortar and flagstone without mortar qualify.
6. Nothing is prohibited from a xeriscape. The rebate will not pay for St. Augustine grass, impervious landscape, vegetable gardens, modern roses, annual flower beds or acid loving plants, but they may be part of you landscape.
7. If over 50% of the available landscape is xeriscape plants or hardscape you will receive 10 cents per square foot. If over 50% is turf you will receive 5 cents per square foot. The maximum rebate is $500.
8. Zoysia, Bermuda and buffalo grass count as xeriscape grasses because they can go dormant when water is not available but they count as part of the 50% lawn provision.