Gardening Tips with Neil Sperry: Gardening To Save Water

Hi. I’m Neil Sperry and I’m back visiting at Calloway’s. I hope you’ll do that as well. Go in all summer long. They are there 12 months a year to help you. You know that. Texas certified nursery professionals. Our topic today is going to be saving water during the upcoming summer. Water is a precious commodity in Texas. At certain times, we have good rainfall and the lakes are full, but you never know when the next drought will begin. I have a list of things. I’m going to be referring to my list to make sure I cover everything.


You need to prepare your soil carefully before you get ready to plant. The old black clay soil that we have in much of the North Texas area is not very receptive to water. It’s hydrophobic. It just runs off. That’s a problem. Houston gets a lot of rain for those of you who are in the Cornelius area, Cornelius Nurseries, but for most of the Calloway’s locations, it’s a problem to get enough water in.


You need to choose plant types that can hold up to the hot, dry conditions that you’re likely to encounter over the next three or four months. Don’t plant sensitive plants that you want to try. Don’t put those out in the sunlight, a hot, reflective sunny location. Let me give you an example, hydrangeas. I love hydrangeas as much as the next person, but don’t put them out on the west side of your house against a white brick wall. They’re not going to be very happy there. Put them in the shade. Put them on the east side.


You want to water new plants by hand for the first year to get them established. Sprinkler irrigation alone just won’t be enough. Water them by hand. Soak them deeply, probably every two or three days, three or four days. Use a water breaker and a wand. If you don’t know what a water breaker is, your folks at Calloway’s can show them to you. They are the greatest tool in gardening. That’s my opinion.


Mulch your beds. There are all kinds of mulches. Find one you like and use it. Again, Calloway’s can show you the different types of mulches. Prevent and eliminate weeds. Weeds are great abusers of water. They use water more efficiently than your desirable plants will.


Learn to recognize signs of dry plants. Do you know that hollies and magnolias do not wilt? Now, if they have tender new growth, they might wilt a little bit, but you can have a holly or a magnolia, two of our finest plants, that will die before people realize that they’re dry. You need to recognize those subtle changes in the plants. Water deeply when you do water. A lot of people go out with the garden hose and they just spritz the water around. That’s not going to water deeply. Water to a depth of 8 or 10 or 12 inches and then wait until that soil begins to dry. You have the best water meters on the ends of your hands, 10 of them in most cases.


And then finally, avoid high nitrogen fertilizers in the middle of the summer. I want you to fertilize your plants properly. That’s a spring and fall thing. But in the middle of the summer, maybe you don’t encourage vigorous growth. The plants don’t need to grow at that time. Let them slow down a little bit. It’s kind of like running a marathon. Maybe you don’t do that when it’s 110 degrees out there. Some of you do. Neil doesn’t.

Hey. I’m Neil Sperry and I am very proud to have Calloway’s sponsoring me all year long. That’s on the radio on KLIF Saturday afternoons 1:00 to 3:00 and on WBAP Sunday mornings from 8:00 until 10:00. Thank you for watching. Get into Calloway’s today and be watching next time. I’ll see you then.