North Central Texas Smartscape
Texas SmartScape™ utilizes xeriscape principles, but goes beyond the basics by providing design, care, and plant search tools that are "Smart" for North Central Texas. Learn more...
This Program Will Show You How To
Conserve water and save $Money$ on your water bills; beautify your home and local environment; attract native butterflies, hummingbirds and other wildlife; and prevent / help reduce storm water pollution!
Stop Wasting Money, The Street Will Never Grow!
We are officially in the fall season. The temperatures have come down to a more pleasant level and that means that your lawn no longer needs as heavy a watering schedule as it did through the summer. In the midst of our busy lives, many times people forget that they need to adjust their automatic sprinklers with the season. If you are watering the same now as you were in July, you are wasting our limited water supply and your hard earned money by sending it down the street.
As temperatures drop and days become shorter, plant growth slows down as well. Slower plant growth means they require less water. Evaporation rates are also much lower, which means the soil retains moisture longer. These factors combined with the fact that we typically see a little more rain in the fall mean you should reduce the time and frequency of your watering. Throughout the fall, you should reduce your watering by about half. Keep an eye on your lawn and make sure you aren’t watering to the point of water running off your lawn into the street. If the top four inches of your soil is damp, you don’t need to water. Remember, plant roots need time to breathe between waterings - keeping the soil too wet all the time opens the door to disease.
For more information, check out our Watering & Conservation Guide, or our Guide to Watering Methods. Also, if you would like some fall color, check out our plant database and set the blooming field to “fall.” On the details page for each plant is the Plant Timeline that shows how long and when the plant is in bloom.
The weather, overall health of your turf grass, and soil will greatly affect the speed in which your grass grows. Lots of rain means your grass will need to be mowed more often. Periods of drought mean you will mow less frequently. But, the general rule of thumb is to try and remove around one third of the grass blade at each mowing. But why is this and how do you stick to it?
Grass plants have a “growing point” where the leaves or blades originate from. This growing point will stay close to the soil if the grass is mowed often and the rule of thumb is followed. If you let your grass grow too tall before mowing it, then this growing point will move up from the soil, reducing density, opening the door to weeds, and placing the growing point at risk of being chopped off by the mower. If the growing point is cut, the plant may not be able to recover. So, if you mow your St. Augustine grass to around 3 inches, you should mow it when it reaches between 3.5–4 inches. For Bermuda grass, when mowing to 2 inches, you should mow it when it reaches between 2.5-2.6 inches.
Check out Texas AgriLife’s Turf mowing recommendations for optimal mowing height for each type of grass. https://aggieturf.tamu.edu/answers4you/mowing.html And remember, deep infrequent watering is best for your landscape. Not only does it build deep, strong roots, it saves precious water too!
Water Deeply and Infrequently
This summer we may have received a little relief from the heat with a few good rains, but drought in North Texas is still here. Many cities in North Texas are still under “Severe” or “Extreme” drought conditions (U.S. Drought Monitor) and therefore have implemented twice a week watering restrictions. With more and more people moving to the region every year, it is increasingly important to conserve the water we have.
While twice a week is the restriction limit, if you water correctly, you may not even need to water that much. By only watering when your lawn needs it, and watering deeply when you do, you will help build strong, deep roots that are able to support the plant even in drought conditions. Check out our watering section for more information about proper watering technique. Also, browse our plant database to find plants, shrubs, and trees that once established will require little to no supplemental watering at all.
Here are a few additional resources:
Dallas Water Reservoir levels: http://22.214.171.124/lakelevels/
U.S. Drought Monitor: http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?TX
http://www.savetarrantwater.com and http://savedallaswater.com provide information about saving water around your home.
http://www.watermyyard.org is a great resource to help remind you when to water based on local rainfall and temperatures.
Know Your Soil and Help Plants Thrive In It
There are many different soil types in the North Texas region. Clay, sand, or loam soil mixtures are scattered throughout the North Texas area, with clay being the most common. It is important for you to know your predominant soil type since it will determine which plants to select, watering techniques to use, and to what extent compost should be used to ammend your soil. If you are unsure about what type of soil you have in your yard, check out our soil section to learn about a simple test you can do. If you feel like your soil is not very good for growing anything, fear not because compost and mulch can help!
Mulch is typically shedded organic matter or tree bark. It reduces water loss from the soil, reduces weeds in flower beds, moderates soil temperatures and prevents soil erosion. Compost is the result of decayed organic matter and provides nutrients, adds beneficial microbes, attracts worms, and helps retain moisture in the soil. While mulch and Compost serve similar functions, the true magic happens when they are combined. Laying down a layer of compost or mixing it into the soil before adding layer of mulch in your flower beds will make your soil like a nutrient rich sponge. The beneficial microbes in compost will also help break down the mulch over time into plant-available nutrients, providing a constant food source for your thriving plants and eliminating the need for commercial fertilizer which reduces the risk of water pollution.
There are several ways to make your own compost from yard waste and kitchen scraps: the hot method, the cold method, the bokashi method, and vermicomposting (worms). Also, many times cities offer free mulch to residents, check with your local municipality to find out. Our Events section is a great place to start if you are interested in learning more about composting.
Use this search tool to identify which plants will work for you.
- FREE SmartScape Training Classes: View all events.
- WANTED- SmartScape plant photos. Our plant database can now support multiple images of each plant. Submit plant photos to email@example.com.
- List of SmartScape-friendly companies.
- Nurseries/landscape companies: Partnership opportunities. [pdf]
- We want to know if you've attempted to use SmartScape ideas and techniques in your yard! Share your SmartScape.
- Interested in helping us expand Texas SmartScape to other regions in Texas? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.