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!
Why Proper Watering and Fertilizer Use is Important to our Environment
Freddy the Fish teaches kids about what happens to rain after it hits the ground, where storm drains lead to, and what we can do to help prevent water pollution. While this video may be intended to younger children, we could all learn a thing or two from Freddy the Fish.
When you use fertilizer or pesticides, the chemicals that are not absorbed into the ground get carried off of your property the next time it rains (or if your irrigation is watering past the point of runoff). These chemicals, bacteria filled pet waste, and other things get carried down the street, into a storm drain, and into the nearest stream, river, and eventually lake - which is where our water supply comes from. And it isn’t just fertilizer and pesticides, grass clippings that get washed down the storm drain can accumulate and clog the drain and the clippings that make it to the stream alter the oxygen levels in the water as they decompose, which makes it difficult for fish and other wildlife to survive.
Being careful to not over water your landscaping has numerous benefits. The obvious benefits of saving water, saving money, and promoting a healthy root system. And the less obvious benefit of preventing pollution from getting into our streams and lakes. With the winter weather here, you should only need to water your grass if the soil is dry on the top six inches. A good layer of mulch hand watering your plants before a cold snap will also help protect the roots from the cold and give the plants the opportunity to replace the moisture pulled from them by the dry wind. When watering, keep it on the lawn and take note from Freddy, “Only rain down the storm drain.”
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!
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.