What’s in your garden? Find out with free soil testing

The Soil Kitchen, a three-day opportunity for backyard gardeners to receive free soil tests, will take place during the Fusebox Festival at 1098 Jain Lane in East Austin on April 10-12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. School gardens and community gardens can be tested as well, and the results will help you to safely and effectively start or continue gardening.

How does it work?

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Texas A&M’s Agrilife Extension, and the City of Austin will be on hand to test y…


Austin, Texas Skyline.

Town Lake... Lady Bird Lake... the Colorado River. Whatever you call it, Austin wouldn't be the same without the scenic body of water separating North and South Austin.

Many residents and visitors appreciate Lady Bird Lake's beauty, whether from a kayak, the hike-and-bike trail, or even while stuck in MoPac traffic. But even many longtime fans have heard inaccurate information about our fair Lady along the way. We're here to test your knowledge and…


This blog was updated in May 2019.

Highly destructive zebra mussels have invaded many popular Central Texas waters, and Austin’s local creeks and Barton Springs Pool are now at risk.  Zebra mussels destroy local aquatic ecosystems and hurt visitors (including cutting people’s feet and dogs’ paws).  In Barton Springs Pool, an infestation also would likely significantly increase maintenance costs.

Spread the Message, Not the Mussels

People can easily spread this invasive species from one body of water to another without knowing it.  Young zebra mussels are invisible to the naked eye, and millions of them can live undetected on wet items for da…


Austin Creeks over the watersheds in Austin.

Think back…close your eyes and let your mind return to a day when you were young. You dipped your toes in a little stream, picked up rocks to find bugs, listened to frogs chirping. Austin is a city of creeks; thousands of miles of little creeks and larger creeks flow throughout the city. You can discover, explore, and enjoy many of these creeks. Even in the middle of the urban area, you just nee…


The shoreline of Lady Bird Lake is home to an amazing array of plants and birds, as well as plenty of turtles, and even a few nutrias. Unfortunately, one non-native nuisance plant has set up shop around the lake and seems to be crowding everything else out.

Taro Dense

What it is

Elephant ear (also known as wild taro) is a native of the Asian tropics and has been in Central Texas since at least 1929. On Lady Bird Lake it likes to keep its feet wet right at the water’s edge. It can grow so densely that it prevents oth…


Summary: Austin needs more pollinators and you can help by taking the pollinator challenge and planting pollinator treats!

Here's the Buzz

A bee pollinating a flower.Pollinators are crucial to the production of fruits and seeds for many plants, both wild and cultivat…


Download Shoreline Homeowners -  a Guide for Lakeside Residents.Shorelines are a very important part of the lake ecosystem. Poor biological health is three times more likely in lakes with poor lakeshore habitat, according to the EPA. Healthy, natural shorelines can improve water quality and floodplain function, reduce the erosive impacts of waves, and…


Red Neon Skimmer sitting on a branch.Spotted! This Neon Skimmer (Libellula croceipennis) was spotted here in Austin! A native to Texas, the neon skimmer can also be found around the Southwest including Arizona and Southern California. Known for its vivid red color and unusual mating patterns, skimmers are often seen hanging out around lakes and ponds in Central Texas. Their mating ritual is quite e…


As rain runs off our rooftops and streets, it drains down into the stormdrains and is directed to the streams. This rush of water swells the stream which can then overtop the banks of the stream channel and flow into the riparian zone. The roots of the vegetation along the channel and banks help hold the soil in place and prevent erosion. As large volumes of water inundate the perennial plants and grasses, the weaker plants bend over and blanket the soil. The blanket of plant material covers and protects the soil (Figure 2) and provides shelter for young tree and shrub seedlings that have been growing in the shady nursery.