It’s wet, comes from the wild, and could be in your neighborhood.
And if you use it, you know less really is more.
It’s Texas SmartScape -- a sustainable approach to irrigation that saves a lot of water and money as it changes the look of lawns and gardens across Plano and other cities.
“Texas SmartScape is a landscape water conservation program addressing design, plant selection, irrigation efficiency and maintenance to reduce water,” says, Dotty Woodson, program specialist-water resources, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Dallas.
Woodson said water use increases 35 to 70 percent during the irrigation season. She says water use is reduced by as much as two-thirds by designing new landscapes and redesigning older landscapes using Texas SmartScape plants, flowers, shrubs, grasses, and trees that are native or adapted to the regional climate.
“Texas SmartScape creates beautiful landscapes that require less water, fertilizer and little or no pesticides,” Woodson added. “Landscapes are very important for the value of our homes, moderate the environment and provide a comfortable place to rest and play.”
Once established, most of the Texas SmartScape plants require water only a few times in the hot summer months, Woodson said.
She also noted landscapes that have efficient conservation features like shade trees can produce oxygen, absorb carbon, reduce utility bills, help clean polluted air, filter storm water and help control flooding.
Residents are encouraged to consider establishing Texas SmartScape lawns and gardens in late summer and fall as Texas continues to be challenged by persistent drought conditions.
Melinda Haggerty, a City of Plano spokesperson, said nearly three dozen residents attended a Texas SmartScape for Beginners workshop in May.
Plano master gardener Kathleen Brooks began using Texas SmartScape ideas in her home landscape five years ago. Here’s what she says about her experience:
“I did not install a sprinkler system and designed the beds using native plants and drought tolerant adapted plants. By adding a layer of mulch twice a year there is no need to fertilize using chemicals. During the drought of the past couple of years, I have watered very little. The flowers attract lots of bees and butterflies. None of these plants have died off and many, such as Lamb's Ears, are thriving with our infrequent rains. I think many people would be happy with a low maintenance yard that requires little additional water and no extra fertilizer.”
In 2008, Plano offered a YardWise Landscape Beautification Rebate to a limited number of Plano
residents as part of the city’s Live Green in Plano initiative. Residents earned up to $200 by completing a simple four-step program to improve their homes’ landscaping while reducing water consumption.
Erin Hoffer, a member of the City of Plano environmental education team, noted that the YardWise program and Texas SmartScape share a common objective: water conservation.
“Water is a shared resource and one that has become dearer as we move through another year of precipitation shortfall,” said Hoffer. “Water quality and availability are critical to our health as a community, so it is incumbent on us to be good stewards of this precious resource. By gradually converting to Texas SmartScape principles in our landscapes, we conserve both the amount of water and the cleanliness of it.”
The North Texas Municipal Water District and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension created Water My Yard, a tool that tells you when and how much to water based on current temperature and rainfall measurements. Click here to visit the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Dallas website.
Go here to find out more about Texas SmartScape. Visit here to learn about events in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area that relate to gardening, landscaping, composting, and other Texas SmartScape related activities.
Efficient water conservation is also showcased in the Water Sense House located on the campus of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center at Dallas. The home shows visitors how easy water conservation can be both indoors and out. The home also provides hands-on learning opportunities in areas such as hot water on demand systems, water efficient faucets and fixtures, water efficient landscaping and irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting and rain garden design. Send an email to email@example.com to schedule a tour appointment.
Plano residents can go here to learn more about the Live Green in Plano Volunteer program’s fall training classes. The program provides 12 hours of education that includes information on water conservation, waste reduction, energy conservation, Texas SmartScaping and composting. In exchange, volunteers provide 24 hours of their time as a program volunteer. Sessions are held at the Plano Environmental Education Center, 4116 W. Plano Parkway in Plano. Online registration is required.