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OKLAHOMA OUTSI DE How much does it cost to water

your lawn? I found a water calculator on the web that calculates just that after you plug in your country, state, city and lawn size. Using regional and water rates and costs, this web- site gives you the annual costs for watering your lawn, along with the amount of gallons you will use. Check it out at www.wil dfl owerfarm. com/watercalc.htm.

Desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures. One of the best ways to cut back on landscape watering costs is to reduce or elimi- nate the number of plants that re- quire a lot of water to stay healthy and showy in the landscape. Turf is the number one consumer of water, followed by annual fl owers, perennials, trees and shrubs. Some shrubs are very drought tolerant, as are certain trees and vines. On the other hand, there are just a few truly drought-tolerant fl owers that you can use in low water conditions. Cutting back on the yard and re- placing it with tough drought-tol- erant perennials and ground covers is a good fi rst step to signifi cantly reducing the water bill. Replacing cool-season grasses, such as peren- nial rye and fescue, with ground covers in shaded areas helps cut down on use, and so does selecting more heat- and drought-tolerant warm-season grass varieties of Ber- muda grass or zoysia. See your local county extension offi ce to get good information on new lawn varieties for hot Oklahoma conditions. Eliminating fall overseeding will also save water, since you won’t have to sprinkle to establish the grass and keep it growing all fall, winter and spring. Planting more trees in the land- scape will lessen your need to water, as the shade will minimize evapo- ration by the lawn. So consider a slow-growing tree that doesn’t need a lot of water to stay happy. Chinese pistache, cedar elm, hackberry and bur oak are a few. Definitely stay away from river birch, willow, silver or red maples, and poplars. If you want to know which plants to avoid for future reduction of water use, just stopping watering everything for fi ve days in July. The

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Allan Storjohann Allan serves as manager for Oklahoma City’s Myriad Gardens and hosts a garden show on KRMG radio out of Tulsa. He can be reached by email at

plants that are still in good shape after that time will be the best pros- pects; those that are wilted beyond recognition should be replaced. I have a lot of plants that need water every day in my landscape, and they’re all on the list for re- moval before the next planting sea- son. I’ve had great luck with these tough drought-tolerant annual fl owering plants: lantana, verbena, penta, scaevola, gazania, cleome, sun coleus, nierembergia, salvia and gomphrena.

Some great perennials for dry spots include artemisia, yarrow, coreopsis, gaillardia, kniphofi a, lia- tris, perovskia, gaura, nepeta and santolina. Don’t forget red-yucca, ground-cover junipers, upright ju- nipers, barberry, pyracantha, nan- dina, yaupon holly, ornamental grasses and a select group of earth- kind roses I wrote about in the past May edition of Oklahoma Living. The goal of reducing water costs is multifaceted and involves more than just cutting back on lawn and landscape watering. It really takes a careful review of your water use in the home, along with an inspection of your pipes and fi xtures to see if they are leaking. By cutting back in all areas of our family water use, we can not only reduce our personal costs for water but we can also con- tribute greatly to conserving this great natural resource for our chil- dren and grandchildren. OL JULY 2011 23

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