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WaterSaver newsletter
Monday, January 5, 2009 Back to Issue Archive
The Stars of Winter
By Dana Nichols

When integrating backbone plants into your landscape:
Determine their function (screening, backdrop, etc.)
Consider your soil type
Place structural plants (such as yucca) away from walkways

In winter, the showstoppers of your landscape are evergreen backbone plants that change very little throughout the year. Winter is the best time of year to determine where you might want to add some of these plants come spring, and how they’ll integrate into your landscape. When selecting backbone plants, be particularly aware of the function you want the plant to perform: fence or screening, groundcover in place of turfgrass, backdrop for flowering perennials, cover for wildlife, architectural interest or all of the above.

You also want to consider what kind of soil you have, the deep natural soils found in central San Antonio, shallow soils of northern San Antonio where temperatures are cooler, or the sandy soils of south San Antonio. For example, for fencing or screening, if you live in an area with deep natural soil that is fairly well sheltered you can treat yourself to using the bay laurel and have the added benefit of fresh bay leaves for your soups and stews year round.

If you have shallow soils, the much maligned native junipers are great evergreen and wildlife choices and need no additional water. The majestic Italian Cyprus is also a good choice. For sandy soils, the Oleander is a good choice, and it even blooms. Oleanders come in a variety of sizes and flower colors, so do a little research and get the colors and size that meet your needs. Finally, add architectural structure to your landscape by including a cactus or yucca, just not near a walkway, please.
Friday, May 23, 2014
0 in. Bermuda (Full Sun)
0 in. Buffalo (Full Sun)
0 in. St. Augustine (Full Sun)
0 in. St. Augustine (Shade)
0 in. Zoysia (Full Sun)
0 in. Zoysia (Shade)
Use these amounts to water this evening after 8 p.m. or tomorrow morning before 10 a.m. Remember, it's winter. For a healthy lawn, water no more than twice a month, or less if you have drought tolerant grass.
Rain benefits continue this week with established plants. No water necessary. Hand water newly planted plants. Donna Fossum, SAWS Conservation Planner.

Ask A Garden Geek
What is the best way to remove clover from Bermuda grass?
Intriguing question. Prior to the mid 50s, clover was encouraged as a method to increase lawn productivity and water infiltration. After many years of marketing, people decided it was terrible. Since it dies with the heat, the Geek doesn't view it as a problem. But if you really want to suppress clover without chemicals, mow frequently.
E-mail your question to

What makes ideas from SAWS refreshing?
It's all about thinking beyond what is expected.
Discover Refreshing Ideas or, share some of your own at
Seasonal Star
Big Blue Liriope
(Liriope muscari)
Big blue liriope is easy to grow and it tolerates full shade or direct sunlight. Just keep it away from very hot areas near pavement. Although big blue liriope produces small purple flowers in the summer and black berries in the winter, it is most valued because it stays evergreen, does not invade other areas and provides great contrast to sprawling, flowering plants.
Past Peak
Mexican Bush Sage
(Salvia leucantha)
Mexican bush sage has peak blooms in September, and the most common varieties have purple and white spikes of blooms. Grow them next to yellow fall blooming plants such as Mexican mint marigold or Copper Canyon daisy. These will look "leggy" in the winter, but will come back strong in the spring.
Event Calendar
Monthly Watersaver Walks
January 17 10 a.m.
San Antonio Botanical Garden, 555 Funston
Tour the Watersaver Gardens to learn how to have a beautiful landscape while using less water. Participants receive a free copy of the SAWS Landscape Care Guide. Free with admission to the Garden.
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