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An Overview of Xeriscaping: An Interview with Paul Rutowski of The Austin Lawn Service

By Paul Rutowski

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

The Austin Lawn Service is now a 5-year-old company starting with our core business being lawn care and maintenance. We have doubled our clientele every year since then. We are also taking in more requests beyond the basic lawn care scope. Our current interest is to give our customers the opportunity to upgrade their lawns to conserve water in light of our ongoing drought conditions.

Please explain the concept of "Xeriscaping".

It is a style of landscape that minimizes watering, and uses native plants and materials.

In your opinion, why is it important to include xeriscaping within a landscape design?

Its no secret that Central Texas is experiencing a severe drought of which will take years to recover. The City of Austin is also facing critical water issues resulting in higher water bills for customers with thirsty lawns. Xeriscape is the solution. Water conservation, Sustainability and Low Maintenance is the responsible way to go.

What are some common gardening practices that waste water?

Use of non-native plants, the ones that are not listed on the "Grow Green" program with the City of Austin. Use of St. Augustine turf grass in sunny areas is probably the major culprit in water waste in our City.

What is the first thing you suggest for attempting to make a garden more receptive to dryer conditions?

If it cannot be done all at once, start something on a smaller scale. Most of my customers spend a lot of water on their front yard while it serves very little functional purpose. You do not see a lot of people use their front yard on a daily basis. It is more of a showcase, ornamental and a display of their house. I would start by minimizing the front yard in most cases.

What is your best tip you can offer to someone who is looking to create a beautiful yard but also adhere to water conservation?

That using pea gravel instead of mulch is a good one time permanent solution for their plant beds.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

You can find all of our contact info on our website: www.theaustinlawnservice.com

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