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Drought-tolerant gardens don’t have to be boring. Using native plants can create a beautiful colorful garden.

Water. It’s the new buzzword. Drought is, arguably, the worst word known to gardeners. Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, according to this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor, are getting dryer by the day. As of April 26, 2022, 45.4% of the U.S. and 54.2% of the lower 48 states are in drought.

What does this mean for our community? Water restrictions are in place from May 1 to Oct. 15. You may water with sprinkler systems up to three days a week (you choose the days). Water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Hand watering of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and vegetable gardens may occur on any day.

Don’t let water pool on hard surfaces or flow down gutters. Repair leaking sprinkler systems within 10 days. Use a shut-off nozzle when using a hose. Clean hard surfaces (such as driveways and sidewalks) with water only if there is a public health and safety concern. If you are found in violation, you could be fined up to up to $100.

Tips to keep lawns healthy during a drought.

Use your mower’s highest setting to promote healthy root growth. Mow frequently enough so you only remove one-third of the grass blade to prevent stress (one to two times per week). Let clippings recycle back onto the lawn rather than bagging them up. This provides nutrients. Keep a sharp mower’s blade for a clean cut. Mow when the grass is dry to prevent disease.

Core aerate once or twice per year in spring and/or fall to provide oxygen to the soil and encourage deeper roots. Don’t forget to water 24 to 48 hours before aerating to encourage deeper core removal.

Fertilize mid-spring, early fall and late fall to sustain steady growth throughout the year. Use a fertilizer with nitrogen; both traditional and organic types work. Avoid weed-and-feed formulas.

Tips to keep other plants healthy during a drought.

Due to Colorado’s high intensity sunlight, low humidity, temperature extremes, windy conditions and challenging soil characteristics, growing and maintaining a healthy landscape can be difficult even when drought conditions are not present. Do not irrigate when it’s raining or windy. Water trees and shrubs deeply and infrequently; this will increase the plant’s drought tolerance.

Moving forward and planning for the future.

Choosr natives and drought- tolerant water-wise plants. Drought-tolerant plants need regular watering until established. Recognize the water requirements of the plants in your landscape and use only the water that they need. To conserve water, spread mulch, 1 to 2 inches deep on the soil surface between and around plants to reduce water evaporation and prevent weeds.

Implementing long standing water-wise principles is one way we can responsibly and efficiently use water for the benefit of us all. Healthy plants provide better air quality, decrease our energy costs and provide shelter and food for wildlife.

Email gardening questions to csumg2@elpasoco.com. For more information, visit facebook.com/ ColoradoMasterGardeners.EPC. To sign up for classes, go to epcextension.eventbrite.com.

Email gardening questions to csumg2@elpasoco.com. For more information, visit facebook.com/ ColoradoMasterGardeners.EPC. To sign up for classes, go to epcextension.eventbrite.com.

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