By Calvin Finch, Ph.D.
SAWS offers several rebate
programs for homeowners wanting to improve the water efficiency
of their homes.
My favorite program is the
Water Saver Rebate. If you are moving into a new home and select
zoysia, Bermuda or buffalo grass instead of St. Augustine grass,
you receive a $0.05/sq.ft rebate on your water bill from SAWS.
Better yet, if more than 50 percent of the yard is groundcovers,
mulched shrubs, and pervious landscape, you receive $0.10/sq
foot up to $500.
The rebate covers the difference
in cost between a St. Augustine-dominated yard that is constantly
threatened by our patterns of drought and cold, vs. a xeriscape
landscape that is more tolerant of our conditions.
If you have an ambitious planting
in mind but want to do it over a 3- or 4-year period, or at
least want to wait until our current drought is lifted, the
rebate will work for you. Make your plan so that the first year's
work includes mulching the planting area and placing the pervious
hardscape (flagstone, brick, patio blocks, etc). Mulch and pervious
hardscape do not require irrigation so will qualify for the
Homeowners or businesses that
convert a traditional St. Augustine landscape to xeriscape also
can receive the rebate. One of the easiest conversions is to
kill your St. Augustine with Round-up or Finale and then plant
groundcover right into the killed sod. Use monkey grass, Texas
Gold columbine, blueshade ruellia, Katy ruellia, Asiatic jasmine,
or English ivy for the shade. In the sun Asiatic jasmine, Katy
ruellia, honeysuckle, lantana, spreading juniper, and prostate
rosemary make good low maintenance groundcovers.
If you prefer turf, add 1-3
inches of compost or landscape mix over the top of the killed
St. Augustine grass and till it to make a homogenous surface.
Put the zoysia, Bermuda and buffalo grass onto the level surface
and roll it to insure root-to-soil contact.
One of the best ways to get
information on the Water Saver Rebate is to attend the free
Master Gardener/SAWS programs offered each month for that purpose.
Sunday, June 4, a Water Saver class is offered at McCreeless
Library from 2-4 p.m. On June 27 (7-9 p.m.) a special class
is being offered at the new Extension Service/Master Gardener
office at 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive Suite 208. The phone number
You may also call SAWS at 704-SAVE
to have an application mailed. The application is easy to complete
and includes a good plant list. Attendees to the Master Gardener
programs also receive a copy of the Xeriscape Conversion Guide,
a publication available for $5 at area nurseries.
If you live near the Botanical
Gardens (555 Funston Place), SAWS and the center are offering
special drought counseling every Thursday evening from 5-7 p.m.
They will have the Water Saver applications available for individuals
who stop by, plus you can ask about any plant problems you have.