The Texas SmartScape™ program provides a wide variety of benefits for you and the environment.
According to the EPA, approximately 30% of the average U.S. water bill is spent on outdoor water use, and more than half of this is used on watering lawns and gardens. Here in North Texas, that can go up to 70%. With booming growth a certainty for many regions of Texas, we must conserve our water. Extreme weather conditions, including periods of drought, are the reality in Texas. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the majority of rainfall occurs in the spring and fall, and the hottest months are frequently the driest. To maintain a non-drought-tolerant, traditional landscape under such harsh environmental conditions requires tremendous amounts of water. By selecting low-water-use plants, you help conserve this precious resource. While not every Texas SmartScape plant is drought tolerant, a lot of them are—especially after they're established. The Texas SmartScape program also recommends practices such as water-efficient irrigation and mulching, which also conserve water. For more information about water conservation, visit http://savenorthtexaswater.com/
Reduced Water Pollution
Stormwater and irrigation runoff carry pesticides and fertilizers from residential yards to neighborhood creeks, ponds, rivers, and lakes. This impacts aquatic life and our sources of drinking water.
When fertilizers run off into local waterways, aquatic plants such as algae can experience rapid growth. Under the right conditions, this growth and decomposition can reduce oxygen levels in water and kill fish. When a landscape includes plants that are not native or adapted to our environment, they often don't thrive–which leads people to make repeated applications of fertilizer to try to help give them a boost. Fertilizer is also often most applied in the spring and fall, times of significant rainfall in many parts of Texas. This means a high percentage of fertilizer never even reaches the targeted plants, but instead enters our waterways through runoff.
Eliminating or minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers in your landscape helps keep these harmful chemicals out of our environment. The plants in the Texas SmartScape database should thrive without the use of much—if any—synthetic fertilizer or pesticides. The Texas SmartScape program also includes tips for water-efficient irrigation and proper application of fertilizers and pesticides, which should reduce the amount of polluted runoff heading to our local waters.
Many plants in the Texas SmartScape database attract native birds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. (Make sure to select "native" as a filter when using the plant search tool.) As regions in Texas continue their rapid development, open space and natural areas are becoming increasingly rare. By including native plants in your landscape, you will be providing critical habitat components. With a little planning, you can actually tailor your SmartScape landscape to attract and sustain butterflies, hummingbirds, or other pollinators.
One key thing to keep in mind is that the greater the diversity of plants in your landscape, the greater the variety of wildlife you will attract. Especially valuable are plants that form the understory in most woodland habitats. These are the shrubs and small trees that provide important food resources, such as fruits and berries, as well as shelter and nesting sites for many species.
When you select plants that are native to your region, you're also selecting plants that are more likely to not need much—if any—pesticides, as they have evolved with measures such as chemical defenses against the region's pests. While sometimes a pesticide is a necessary tool, it's important to select a pesticide wisely, to understand a pesticide's effects, and to use it as directed.
Most commonly used insecticides are indiscriminant, which means they are designed to kill a broad spectrum of organisms. This means they aren't targeting just the pest you want to get rid of, but also pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, and other beneficial insects that prey on the pests. In addition, pesticides can have an effect on the food web. For example, lizards, birds, and mammals that eat the poisoned insects are ingesting the same toxins.
To properly dispose of pesticides, visit www.timetorecycle.com and find a household hazardous waste drop-off location near you.
A beautiful, relaxing environment
The plants in the Texas SmartScape database were selected by landscape and horticulture experts to thrive in their respective region without a lot of work on the gardener's part. The plant database includes a wide variety of plants (not just succulents or what you might think of as stereotypical xeriscape plants), so you can select plants that you find attractive.
Saving time and money
When you select native and adapted plants in your landscape, you're selecting plants that won't need as much water, fertilizer, or pesticides as other plants. This means less time providing maintenance, and less money spent on your water bill and at the garden center. SmartScape plants should not have to be replaced each year they are plants chosen for their hardiness as well as lifespan. Your city may also offer WaterWise landscape rebates or other financial incentives for water-efficient landscaping; check with your city to learn more.
Tip: If you spot TxSmartScape at a public event or come to one of our plant sales, we usually hand out water gauges, moisture meters, and other great freebies!