Editorís Note: This is the first of a five part series offering helpful tips for better gardening in the New Year and perhaps a even a few New Yearís resolutions people can stick to.

Everyone should be well on their way into Christmas. And what comes after Christmas? New Yearís, of course, and New Yearís resolutions.

Whether you are a new gardener or if you have been gardening since grade school, here are a few reminders of what constitutes good gardening. If you love getting dirt under your fingernails and the smell of freshly turned soil, then please read on.

1. I will conserve water: We have had very little rain in the past months so letís talk about water. Water is a precious commodity and becoming more so. Many of us are new to Somervell County and, more than likely, have moved from the Dallas/Fort Worth area or some other large metropolitan area. We are accustomed to lush, green lawns of St. Augustine or Bermuda. Well, welcome to the county where rock is everywhere. If you are blessed with more than three inches of topsoil, then wonderful. However, many of us are not that fortunate. There are many grasses out there that do well in our poor soil and require very little watering. One of them is Buffalo grass. My husband and I put in Buffalo grass three years ago and it has done very well. We water approximately once every few weeks in the summer and it has spread and looks nice. If you have a sprinkler system, then please do not set it to come on at regular intervals. Water only when needed and never during the hottest part of the day.

Mulch is another way to conserve water. Right now, mulch is free to Somervell County residents. Just show up with your pickup or trailer at the Somervell County Transfer Station located on Highway 56 (less than one mile north of the 67 and 56 intersection). It is on your left or westside of the highway. They will load it for you on Monday or Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. Mulch keeps the roots of the plants cool and helps hold moisture in the soil. It also helps maintain an even, consistent temperature during the summer.

Want to really get on the water conservation bandwagon? Then install a drip irrigation system. Again, there are many Web sites that will instruct you clearly on how to do this. Drip irrigation systems can be purchased at most garden centers and your big box stores. It is a small investment that will pay you great dividends.

Another way to conserve water is to install rain barrels around your house/barn. Again, there are many Web sites that will help you construct your very own rainwater collection system. Or, if you are lucky enough to know a Master Gardener, then ask one of us. We will be more than happy to either tell you how to do it or help you get started. It is really easy.