the show

Lawn Options for Drought

encore date: March 15, 2014

original air date: February 8, 2014

Take a new look at lawns with native Habiturf, developed by Mark Simmons at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. On tour, see how the Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Organization is bringing back the birds, bees, and butterflies to this popular park. Daphne attracts wildlife with hardy aloe and celebrates the 100th anniversary of the AgriLife Extension Service. Trisha Shirey fends off deer, mosquitoes and other garden chompers with a repellent that doesn’t repel the gardener!


Episode Segments

On Tour

Bringing Back the Birds |Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Organization

Thanks to music attorney Ed Fair’s vision to launch the Commons Ford Prairie Restoration Organization, there’s a new crowd flocking to Commons Ford Park. When he discovered the park as a first-time birder in 2001, he didn’t find many birds in the prairie. Dominated by non-native grasses, it didn’t offer much food for wildlife. After teaming up with Austin Parks and Recreation, wildlife experts, Native American Seed, and dedicated volunteers, the prairie’s going to the birds, bees, and butterflies.



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Question of the Week

Just what is the County Extension Service?

You’ll often see “Contact your local Extension Office for more information.” What IS Extension, exactly?

Whatever you want to know about planting, your local Extension Office can help you in person, through workshops, Master Gardener programs, online resources and even webinars. They analyze problems, give you best planting times and varieties for your area, tackle garden pests, and lots more.

2014 is the hundred-year anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, the legislation that created the national Cooperative Extension System.

While I’m definitely proud to be a part of this national system, I’m extra proud that almost a decade prior to the Smith-Lever Act, Texas had the very first County Extension Agent in the nation, in Kaufman County.

Our system’s history has its roots in teaching youth about agriculture.  A tradition that began with Boy’s Corn Clubs continues today as 4-H, one of the signature programs in Extension across the nation.  Ladies’ Home Demonstration Clubs are also a big part of our past, and are now becoming relevant again, with our culture’s renewed interest in canning, preserving, sewing, and all manner of other “home arts.”

Of course, as our population grew and we moved into urban centers, home gardening and beautification became important as well.

And that’s where I fit in.  I’m a county horticulturist, and it’s my job to help people in our community, including viewers like you, not only to grow pretty flowers, trees, and vegetables, but also to do so safely, while protecting our environment and our precious natural resources.

Find your Extension Office.

And check out Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Travis County, where we look forward to meeting you at our many hands-on, free, or low-cost workshops. Link to our Horticulture website for plant information, workshops and our latest in home horticulture.


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Plant of the Week



One aloe we all know is Aloe vera, from which we get aloe juice and aloe gel for sunburns and relief from insect bites. It is not cold tolerant, and will turn to mush in winter if planted in your landscape. It's best to grow it in pots and move indoors or warm spots in winter. Otherwise, it's tough as nails, needing little water or maintenance. Do keep it out of direct sunlight. But there are many equally low-care hardy aloes that survive drought, heat, and cold in our garden beds. They require little water or attention, but they do require good drainage and sun. Be sure to amend the soil with plenty of sand or fine aggregate decomposed granite.† Nothing will kill a succulent faster than wet, poorly-drained soil. Their distinctive leaves add stunning low-growing dimension to our well-drained gardens. They come in different colors, but again, do check for cold hardiness. The bloom stalks on hardy aloes shoot skyward, often branching into tree-like shapes, similar to those of agaves.† Bloom stalks usually emerge in summer, and may be red, yellow, orange or any color in between.† Hummingbirds love them! Aloes also produce offshoots that can be easily divided and replanted elsewhere.†