NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – North Texas and most of the state is still recovering from months of devastating drought. But, officially drought conditions are now over — at least in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
For the first time since July, the U.S. Drought Monitor’s weekly map has not classified North Texas as being in drought conditions.
“We’re ecstatic that it’s over,” said Mark Ruibal, at Ruibal’s Plants near the downtown Farmer’s Market. “It feels like spring is right around the corner and you’ll be able to do stuff. You’ll be able to plant your gardens. You’ll be able to plant your flowers and not worry that they’re going to tell you that you can’t water for six weeks.”
Although most North Texas communities are still under strict water restrictions — experts say announcing an ‘official’ end to the drought is a big mental boost for shoppers.
“No one wants to go out and buy a lot of new plant material if they think the drought’s getting worse and they may not be able to water it– and with good reason– so this is real good news for everybody,” explained Dave Forehand, Vice President of Gardens at the Dallas Arboretum.
Dallas’ pristine botanical garden, with the help of a full-time professional staff, survived last year’s sweltering summer even while following water use guidelines. But, the lawns of many homeowners weren’t so lucky.
The drought is over, but the damage has been done.
Now, experts say the thing to do is just give it time.
“The roots of plants grow right through the winter, ” said Forehand, “so while there’s no leaves on top, even if it’s an evergreen, it may not have any new growth. The roots themselves are growing, so they may have been able to recover. So you want to give ’em time to see if they’re really coming back before you pull ’em out and start over.”
Even if you do have to start over, remember to be ‘water wise’ in spite of improving conditions. Experts say a drier than normal spring or another hot summer could have North Texans right back in trouble.
“It’s officially over, but summer’s coming again,” said Ruibal. “So we’re telling everybody to make sure that you do everything right. Put mulch on your beds and make sure that your sprinkler systems are checked right, so if we get into water restrictions later on in the summer, in July and August, then we won’t have to worry about it.”
More than half of Texas remains in severe or exceptional stages of drought.