Household water use between November and March is generally the time period that San Antonio Water System (SAWS) uses to determine our monthly sewer charge for the next year. To conserve water and keep your utilities cost down, reduce water use as much as possible. About 40 percent of residential water use is for maintaining yards and gardens. If you have a sprinkler system, put it on its manual setting until next spring. Water lawns only about every three weeks and flowerbeds as needed when the top 2 to 3 inches of soil is dry. Moisture evaporation is slower in cooler weather.

Predatory, beautiful and rather dainty, ladybugs seem almost fairytale like in their appearance, yet are remarkable hunters. Whether you call them ladybirds, lady beetles or even ladybird beetles, these small beetles have made a tremendous and positive impact on the world’s agriculture by eating their primary prey species, the aphid, which historically destroyed crops. It is thought that the ladybug’s name is derived from farmers rejoicing that the Virgin Mary (often shown in paintings wearing a red cloak) answered their prayers for crop protection and dubbed the small beetle “Our Lady’s Beetles”.

The Parks and Recreation Department was quick to respond to reports of drought stress noticed on the younger trees in King William Park! Not having a current contact, Maria and Fred Pfeiffer wrote to the department’s director Xavier Urrutia, who took time to answer within several hours—and on a Sunday! Tree section manager Melinda Cerda and the new city forester Ross Hosea were right on the situation. Ross met Maria and Fred at the park and reviewed the situation. Extra watering was ordered immediately and by Tuesday tree bags were installed and all of the park trees mulched. Ross and his staff will continue to monitor the trees. He is also working with the Downtown Operations Department to water the stressed cypress trees in the park at Pancoast and Chavez. We appreciate all of the quick attention and hope it rains soon to take some of the load off the overworked Parks’ staff.

If you read the September SAWS newsletter that was in with your monthly water bill, you already know this.  However, for the rest, SAWS has a garden website containing tips and techniques designed to take the guesswork out of landscaping in the San Antonio area.  Go to  I do not use the Internet much, but I did go to the SAWS website so I could or not recommend it.  They must have had me in mind when they designed it.  That is, it must have been designed for dummies.  Even I could figure it out.  The part on plants was very informative.

There is always something to do in the garden.  This article has some tips for cooler weather gardening.  Although some may be repeats from previous articles, is always good to be reminded.

October and November are good months to fertilize lawns, shrubs and trees to promote healthy roots systems for new growth next spring.  With our usually warm South Texas winters, roots continue to grow even if the rest of the plant is dormant. Continue to feed outdoor container grown plants with a water-soluble fertilizer.  Use organic fertilizers, which can be found at independent local nurseries.