Monday, July 15, 2019

When should you water your yard? Check out the WaterMyYard resources.

The sporadic rainfall these past two months have kept things relatively green in the Austin area. The warm days and nights of summer have arrived, though, which means yards can dry out quickly.

It's tempting to adopt a "set it and forget it" approach to watering schedules based on the one-inch per week common advice. The truth is that water requirements can vary based on your location, soil type, wind exposure, sunlight, temperature, and plant composition. A better way to approach your watering schedule is to pay attention to the evapotranspiration rate for your location.

Evapotranspiration. or ET,  is the water loss occurring from the processes of evaporation and transpiration. Evaporation occurs when water changes to vapor from soil or plant surfaces. Transpiration refers to the water lost through the leaves of plants. Understanding ET can help you water your plants more efficiently and take the guesswork out of sprinkler operation frequency and duration.

There are smart irrigation controllers and moisture meters that tie in with weather stations that can calibrate your sprinkler system. If you don't have one of those, you can still get the information from some great Texas A&M AgriLife Extension sites that provide calculators that tell you when to water.

The WaterMyYard website ( lets you set up an individual profiles to receive watering recommendations for your type of irrigation system and local conditions. You can even receive their weekly watering recommendations by email and/or text messages. The program is in partnership with area sponsors or municipalities. Austin Water Utility does not participate, but you can still use the website by typing in the area that is closest to you. The primary areas served by this program are as follows:
  • Briarcliff
  • Cedar Park
  • Cottonwood Shores
  • Crystal Mountain
  • Dripping Springs
  • Hidden Valley
  • Horseshoe Bay
  • Lago Vista
  • Lakeway
  • Leander
  • Marble Falls
  • Meadowlakes
  • Point Venture
  • Pflugerville
  • Sandy Harbor
  • Sunrise Beach Westlake Area
The WaterMyYard program is powered by the TexasETNetwork ( ), which has calculators to help you determine your watering schedule. There are nine LCRA weather stations (including the Austin Redbud location) with data and calculators to help you determine the amount and frequency of irrigation.

Use either of these resources to help set the right schedule for your individual yard. Since they are tied in with current weather data, you can be confident that you are not wasting water or letting things get too dry. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Growing Herbs in Texas Seminar August 10th with Lucinda Rudin

Travis County AgriLife Extension Herb garden at 1600 Smith Rd

Join us August 10th, 10 am to 12 pm at the Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden to learn the basics of growing herbs in the Austin area. Explore a fascinating group of plants that have been part of mankind’s history for thousands of years.

Master Gardener and past President of the Austin Herb Society, Lucinda Rudin, will cover a comprehensive set of topics, including soil preparation, watering, growing seasons, when to plant, when to harvest and how to preserve and store your herbs. Additionally, she will provide ideas for growing herbs in a variety of situations, from apartment balconies to raised beds, and even to incorporating them into your landscape.

There will be an opportunity to visit the beautiful Herb Garden at Zilker Botanical Garden at the end of the presentation.

No registration is required. Attendance to the seminars is open to the public with a park entrance fee of $2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-12) or seniors (age 62 & over), and $3 for non-Austin Residents. Cash or check accepted.

The Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden is located at 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78746.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Nature and Spirit of Japanese Gardens Seminar July 13th with Dr. Molly Ogorzaly

Taniguchi Japanese Garden. Austin, TX

Join us July 13th, 10 am to 12 pm at the Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden and take a trip to gardens around the world without even leaving Austin. Dr. Molly Ogorzaly contrasts Western and Eastern gardening traditions and explains how religious beliefs influenced the conception and construction of Japanese gardens.

Dr. Ogorzaly, who holds degrees in agriculture, botany and science education, will share design principles and identify adapted plants that can be used in Central Texas. These designs and plants are featured in Austin’s Taniguchi Japanese Garden, which opened in 1969 and was built by Isamu Taniguch.

This great gift to the city is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Over these many years, visitors have enjoyed a tranquil, meditative spot in the middle of Zilker Botanical Garden.

No registration is required. Attendance to the seminars is open to the public with park entrance fee. The fees are $2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-12) or seniors (age 62 & over), and $3 for non-Austin Residents. Cash or check accepted.

The Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden is located at 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78746.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spring is here! East Austin Garden Fair set to bloom

Welcome all gardeners!  Whether you are new to, or an old-hand at gardening, the “East Austin Garden Fair: A Passion for Plants” is perfect for you.  Experts from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Travis County Master Gardeners and Austin Parks and Recreation will be available to answer your questions and share their gardening expertise. 

Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The theme for this year’s fair is “Learn. Teach. Grow” and will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 13 at the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center, 2608 Gonzales St. in Austin.

With over 50 booths exhibiting on a variety of topics, the fair will appeal not only to the traditional homeowner but also to those who favor more urban lifestyles.  A special section just- for-kids brings lots of family-fun activities.  There will be a plant giveaway, lots of free gardening materials, and complimentary soil screening.

“This fun, hands-on fair involves community members in creative, low-cost ways to grow foods to improve their family diet, as well as providing people an opportunity to learn about EarthKind landscaping,” said Daphne Richards, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture, Travis County. Richards said EarthKind landscaping combines the best of traditional and organic techniques while emphasizing reduced use of chemicals.
Daphne will be available to answer questions about gardening and horticulture and to talk about the Master Gardener volunteer program as part of the “Meet the Horticulture Agent” feature at the fair. 

Travis County Master Gardeners will provide information on a variety of horticulture topics, while community partner organizations will provide information on related services, programs and projects.

“The fair’s demonstration activities will include straw bale gardening, tools and techniques, and composting, as well as learning about best irrigation methods and how to garden using containers,” Richards said. “Attendees can also learn how to care for their fruit trees, house plants and vegetable gardens, plus learn about subjects like backyard chickens and beekeeping.”

Richards said free soil screening for gardeners will be offered through Austin Resource Recovery. To have soil tested for metals, pH and nutrients, attendees need to bring a 2-cup soil sample in a quart-size zip-lock bag. Instructions for soil sampling can be found at

Free vegetable, herb or ornamental plants will be given to attendees while supplies last.

For more information, call 512-854-9600 or go to AgriLife Extension’s Central Texas Horticulture site at

Free Seminar - The Challenges of Tomatoes Blight - Blossom End Rot - Bugs

10 AM to 12 PM at the Austin Area Garden Center, Zilker Botanical Garden.

Master Gardener Vegetable Specialist Patty Leander will kick-off this year’s seminar series on March 30, 2019, with a presentation on tomatoes.  She will share her knowledge of how to overcome some common challenges that adversely affect tomatoes, such as common bugs and diseases.  In addition, Patty will share harvesting tips and some of her favorite recipes for enjoying your tomato bounty.  Austin newcomers and long-time residents will benefit from the seminar, whether you have a large backyard garden, participate in a community garden, or have a few potted tomatoes on your balcony.

Part of the Travis County Master Gardener seminar series. Presentations this year will feature a breadth of gardening topics, such as growing tomatoes, dealing with drought conditions, and Japanese garden design, that will be of interest to both new and experienced gardeners. 

The Austin Area Garden Center in Zilker Botanical Garden is located at 2220 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78746.  A park entrance fee is required.  The fees are $2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-12) or seniors (age 62 & over), and $3 for non-Austin Residents. Cash or check accepted.

Attendance to the seminar is free.  No registration is required.  

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Demonstration Garden Open House and Plant Sale

The Travis County AgriLife Extension Service will be hosting its annual Demonstration Garden Open House and Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on October 20, 2018.
Daphne Richards, Travis County Extension Horticulturist, will be on hand to answer your gardening questions and Travis County Master Gardener Specialists will host informal discussions on a variety of topics, such as, rainwater harvesting, composting, herbs, vegetables, native and adapted plants and roses.
Additionally, the Travis County Master Gardener Association will be holding a Plant Sale featuring pollinator-friendly perennials, such as Duranta, mistflower and Mexican mint marigold. All the plants have been propagated by Travis County Master Gardeners.
The Demonstration Garden is full of plants that fill many different needs, including drought tolerance, brilliant color, plants for full sun or shade and plants of varying heights. There are ornamental trees, flowering shrubs, perennial and annual flowers, roses, vines, herbs, ground covers and vegetables, all watered by a drip irrigation system and harvested rainwater. The best organic and traditional gardening and landscaping principles are combined to create an effective and environmentally responsible garden which encourages water conservation, reduced fertilizer and pesticide use, energy conservation and reduction of waste in landfills.
The Demonstration Garden is located in front of the Travis County AgriLife Extension Service offices at 1600B Smith Road, Austin, 78721. The garden was designed and is maintained by the volunteer efforts of the Travis County Master Gardeners. It serves as a test area for plants, including a newly planted rose garden, and as a demonstration tool for the citizens of Travis County.
For more information contact Daphne Richards at or 512.854.9600.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Care of Trees and Adding Roses to Your Garden - Free Seminar

The Travis County Master Gardeners Association is sponsoring a free gardening seminar on October 6, 2018, on “The Care of Trees,” and “Adding Roses to your Garden.” The seminars will be held in the North Village Branch Library at 2505 Steck Ave., Austin, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Trees improve our environment, provide shelter from the hot Texas sun and add beauty to our
landscapes, so keeping them healthy is extremely important. Travis County Master Gardener
Wendy Buck will share tree maintenance procedures, such as mulching, proper pruning, limiting fertilization and supplemental irrigation techniques that will increase your trees’ chance of withstanding our extreme weather swings.

Growing roses in Central Texas is easier than you thought!  Today there are many hybrid
varieties that need little maintenance and have abundant blooms. Travis County Master
Gardener Cher Coleman, who has 30 years’ experience working with roses, will teach methods
for proper selection of rose varieties, site prep and maintenance like pruning, pest control and

For more information or questions, call the Travis County Agrilife Extension Office at

The seminar is free and open to the public.  No reservations are required.