There's a tax-free weekend for gardeners now, and we're stocking up for summer

Last updated: 05-25-2018

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There's a tax-free weekend for gardeners now, and we're stocking up for summer

There's a tax-free weekend for gardeners now, and we're stocking up for summer
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Most of us are familiar with the tax-free weekend associated with the start of school in August. In fact, these state-funded end-of-summer discounts are nearly 20 years old. 
But did you know that Memorial Day weekend (May 26-28) now hosts a tax-free event of its own? And it's one that many gardeners might find quite intriguing, with water-saving plants, soil amendments and even certain irrigation equipment included in the long list of tax-free items.
Don't mess with taxes
The Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday premiered in May 2016, piggy-backing on the existing  Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday , when you can buy certain Energy Star-rated appliances without paying the state sales tax of 8.25 percent. And while the Energy Star name is familiar to most, its younger sibling, Water Sense , is not as well-known.
Like Energy Star, the Water Sense program is a voluntary partnership program sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Simply put, what Energy Star is to energy savings, Water Sense is to water savings. Water Sense-labeled products use "at least 20 percent less water, save energy, and perform as well as or better than regular models," according to the EPA.
Plants and tools including this moisture meter qualify for a tax break during the Memorial Day holiday at North Haven Gardens in Dallas.
(Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer)
Inside and outside
This Memorial Day weekend, in addition to indoor products like Water Sense- labeled toilets, shower heads and bathroom faucets, Texas homeowners and businesses can purchase Water Sense-labeled irrigation controllers and sprinklers tax-free.
Residential lawn and garden customers can also buy the following products without tax:
• Soaker hoses or drip irrigation hoses help save water by placing water closer to the root zone, where plants can take advantage, reducing evaporation and excess runoff.
Horticulturist Daniel Cunningham shows mulch as he talks about which plants and tools qualify for a tax break during the Memorial Day holiday.
(Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer)
• Mulch, typically in the form of wood chips, maintained at a depth of 2 to 4 inches around trees, shrubs and perennial flowers, works well to not only hold in water but also to help more water infiltrate the soil during rain events. Mulch also has the added benefit of helping control weeds. My favorites are cedar or hardwood mulches.
•  Compost  can be made at home with food scraps or yard waste you normally throw away, but if you don't have enough on hand, you can buy it tax-free this weekend and take advantage of the many benefits compost has as a soil amendment, one of which is helping hold moisture in the soil during hot, dry times.
Plants qualify for the tax savings, but be sure to choose drought-tolerant plants the are well adapted to heat.
(Jae S. Lee/Staff Photographer)
• Plants, trees and grasses also qualify, but it is important to choose the right plants adapted to the somewhat unforgiving soils and climate of North Texas. Choosing Texas native or well-adapted perennial plants is especially important when planting in late May or early June. With temperatures already soaring and unpredictable summer rainfall patterns on the way, it's best to set yourself up for success by picking plants that are resilient and can be successfully established this late in the season. For a searchable database of hundreds of plants that are not only attractive, but also water efficient and Texas tough, visit  wateruniversity.tamu.edu .
For a full list of water conserving products that will be free of tax May 26-28, visit the Texas Comptroller's website .
Daniel Cunningham is a horticulturalist with Texas A&M University AgriLife Research and Extension. 
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