March is Texas Smartscape Month: When in Drought, Plant Native!

Susan Howell
March is Texas Smartscape Month: When in Drought, Plant Native!

It’s almost time to roll up our sleeves, pull out the garden gloves and begin preparing flower beds for spring spruce ups and landscape planting! Utilizing the Texas SmartScape program when designing your garden provides many advantages for our local ecosystem. It promotes water conservation, stormwater pollution prevention, composting, proper lawncare maintenance and waste reduction principles.

Texas Smartscapes program website, www.txsmartscape.com, has carefully curated a database of perennials, shrubs, grasses, vines, groundcover, and trees that are either native or highly adaptive to the North Central Texas region. This means that you can trust that these choices will not only survive our specific climate and soil challenges, but they will also look attractive even in years of drought! Once established, these plants will not only require less water and fertilizer but, they will also provide important habitats for wildlife and pollinators to live in.

The website is also a great source for ideas, resources, and tools for a successful growing season. Visit the Plant Search page to access the plant database where you can filter by plant type, light requirement, plant form, water demand, plant height, plant spread and more. The database even has an option to filter by wildlife value so you are certain to find plants that will attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your yard. Try looking up some of the plants featured in our When in Drought…Plant Natives! ad this year – Turks Cap, Flame Acanthus, Greggs Mistflower, Purple Coneflower, Greggs Salvia, and Purple Passionflower vine – to see how they may fit the light requirements, landscape use, and wildlife value specific to your landscaping. By using Texas Smartscape™ plants to invest in a more resilient and wildlife friendly landscape, we can preserve the quality of our local ecosystems and secure our future water supplies.

Use Native and Adapted Plants. Texas Smartscape™ plants thrive in the wide range of temperature and moisture conditions found in North Central Texas.

  • Approved plants minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides which improves our local water quality and is beneficial to our native wildlife.
  • These plants are resistant to major pest problems which reduces pesticide use
  • They can maintain healthy growth in our region’s soils without using fertilizer.
  • Once native and adapted plants are established, they will require less water.

Reduce Turf Grass. Typical lawns require large amounts of supplemental watering and more intensive maintenance. Create landscaped areas by using the Smartscape Design page or utilize the Smartscape Plant Finder tool to search by 13 different parameters, including plant type, plant shape and size, light requirement, ornamental color, wildlife value, bloom season, landscape use, and more. These landscaped areas will make your yard more attractive and will provide important habitat for native wildlife such as bees and butterflies while conserving water resources.

Use Organic Mulch and Compost. Mulch and Compost help reduce water loss in the soil. Mulch also represses weeds, moderates soil temperature, and prevents soil erosion while compost provides valuable nutrients to your plants.

Water Efficiently and Effectively. Up to 50% of irrigation goes to waste due to evaporation, wind, improper system design, leaks, or overwatering.

  • Avoid water loss due to evaporation by watering early or late in the day. (Between 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.)
  • Use the “Cycle and Soak” method of watering deeply and infrequently.
  • When using an irrigation system, consider using a smart irrigation control system or manually set the controller on an as-needed basis.
  • Install drip irrigation in flower beds and at the roots of shrubs. About 95% of drip irrigation water reaches the plant whereas traditional methods are much less efficient.

For information on Stormwater Pollution and Prevention visit www.arlingtontx.gov/stormwater and find great landscaping ideas, resources and tools at www.txsmartscape.com.

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