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

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

Combination of different plants in landscaping.  Coniferous and deciduous shrubs next to perennial ornamental plants in a mixed table are mulched with pine bark

It’s almost time to roll up your sleeves, pull out your gardening gloves and start preparing flower beds for spring spruce and landscape planting! Using the Texas SmartScape program when designing your garden provides many benefits to our local ecosystem. It promotes water conservation, storm water pollution prevention, composting, proper lawn care maintenance and waste reduction principles.

The Texas Smartscape program website,, has carefully curated a database of perennials, shrubs, grasses, vines, ground covers and trees that are either native or highly adaptable to the North Central Texas region. This means you can trust that these selections 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 site 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 needs, plant shape, water needs, plant height, plant spread and more. The database even has an option to filter by wildlife value, so you’re sure to find plants that will attract birds, bees and butterflies to your garden. Try looking up some of the plants 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 might fit the light requirements, landscaping and wildlife value specific to your landscape. 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.

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Use native and adapted plants. Texas Smartscape™ plants thrive in the wide range of temperature and humidity conditions found in North Central Texas.

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

Reduce sod grass. Typical lawns require large amounts of extra watering and more intensive maintenance. Create landscaped areas using the Smartscape Design page or use the Smartscape Plant Finder tool to search for 13 different parameters, including plant type, plant shape and size, light needs, decorative color, wildlife value, flowering season, landscaping and more. These landscaped areas will make your garden 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 suppresses weeds, moderates soil temperature and prevents soil erosion while compost provides valuable nutrients to your plants.

Water effectively and efficiently. Up to 50% of irrigation is wasted due to evaporation, wind, poor system design, leaks or overwatering.

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

For stormwater pollution and prevention information, visit and find great landscaping ideas, resources and tools at

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