With temperatures rising as summer approaches, I know many of us are asking ourselves a few tough questions:

What does this summer have in store for us?

Will there be enough rainfall to get us out of our drought situation?

How high will my water bill be?

Is it worth it in order to keep my grass green?

What changes can or should I make to my yard for better water usage?

For some of us, there is a concern that our neighborhood homeowners associations have specific restrictions. While rules help keep standards of appearance, it can limit options in drought. However, I recently learned the Texas House of Representatives supported a bill that allows homeowners to xeriscape their lawns with fewer restrictions from their HOAs. If the governor approves the bill, it will allow more homeowners to use drought-tolerant plants and reduce the amount of turf grass for hardscaping and/or rocks.

Surely, the timing of this bill indicates the severity of the ongoing drought and the continued need for Texans to reduce water usage. This action also supports my view that many people still don’t understand the enormity and impact of our water shortage on future supplies and mandated rationing. Just this week, I saw someone using a water hose to remove debris from their driveway instead of using a broom.

“This legislation protects the rights of Texans to respond to the drought through smarter use of our limited water supply,” said Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger of the bill, adding that if Texans want to do their part to conserve water, HOAs should not be allowed to stand in their way.

The more we do now to lessen the water used on our lawns, the better long-range water levels will be. And the more of us who employ xeriscaping plants/hardscaping rather than re-sodding bare spots, the more ground we will make up in the fight to save our water supplies.

Next week, I’ll go into the specifics of xeriscaping and HOA’s roles in the process. Until then, let me encourage you to be conscientious water users and pay close attention to the weather.

As we get spring rains, turn off your sprinkler systems temporarily. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen sprinklers watering while it is raining or just after. That’s such a waste.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at darla.menking @gmail.com.

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