Mansfield’s water experts offer seven steps to a SmartScape yard

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Did you know March is Texas SmartScape month?  Texas SmartScape are native and adapted plants that require less water, pesticides and fertilizers. This saves you money, saves our local water bodies from these pollutants, and saves us all water.  But SmartScape is more than just native and adapted plants. The experts at Mansfield Water Utilities offers seven steps to a SmartScape yard and they are the path to the total wellness of your landscape. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to a beautiful landscape that requires less maintenance, less money, but adds more value to your most precious investment; your home.

Step One:  Plan and Design

A plan is a good start and think of what you want the end product to be when putting your plan together.

A plan is a good start and think of what you want the end product to be when putting your plan together.

It’s always good to have a plan. Start with the end in mind. Consider your family’s needs and desires when envisioning your perfect yard. Once you have a solid idea of what you want, look critically at what you’ve got. What are the permanent fixtures or restrictions?  What plants do you want to keep? Prioritize your needs and create a plan.

Step Two:  Reduce Turf

Larger flower beds mean less turf to water and maintain.

Larger flower beds mean less turf to water and maintain.

Less means more. Less turf means more time for you to enjoy your lawn, and more money in your pocket because you won’t have to water as much. Add more flower beds with SmartScape plants. Add large, sweeping curves to the landscape to make it visually appealing. Add or widen pathways, and use groundcovers where it makes sense. Groundcovers under trees and on slopes can often give the look of grass, but you don’t have to maintain them.

Step Three:  Soil

Soil is the foundation of any good landscape project.

Soil is the foundation of any good landscape project.

Organic matter is the key to a solid foundation to help your plants thrive. Compost helps to condition the soil, hold moisture, prevent run-off, reduce erosion, and unlocks nutrients in the soil. One way to improve water absorption is to add raised beds. Raised beds will also help improve drainage, reduce soil compaction, and reduce weeds.

Step Four:  Planting

Make sure you find the right plant for your yard and the Texas SmartScape database can help.

Make sure you find the right plant for your yard and the Texas SmartScape database can help.

The right plant in the right place. Use the txsmartscape.com plant database to find native and adapted plants that are well suited to our climate and soils. By choosing native plants, homeowners are landscaping with naturally drought-tolerant and disease and pest resistant plants. This will reduce your irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide requirements. When planning your yard or garden, use a wide range of plants and plant with room for their mature size. When planting or transplanting, water the plant, water the hole and water the plant in the hole.

Step Five: Mulch

Mulch around plants helps reduce evaporation and cools the soil in summer.

Mulch around plants helps reduce evaporation and cools the soil in summer.

How much mulch? Regularly adding mulch to maintain about a three-inch blanket is good for beds and around trees. Mulch helps reduce evaporation and cools soils in the summer by up to 10 degrees. Mulch also helps reduce erosion, disease, and prevents weeds from getting a foothold. Never pile mulch up around trunks or stems. Instead it should be like a shallow bowl around the trunk.

Step Six:  Water-wise Irrigation

Smart planting also means smart irrigation. Don't waste water.

Smart planting also means smart irrigation. Don’t waste water.

Efficient irrigation will save you money. It is best to water in the early morning when evaporation rates are lowest. Water 5-10 minutes (or until runoff begins), then water that area again 10 minutes later for another 5-10 minutes (or until 1″ of water total has been applied to that area). One inch of water a week should be enough for native plants to survive even the hottest summers. Look into using drip irrigation. Also, turn off your sprinklers when it rains, because that is just wasting water and money.

Step Seven:  Maintenance

Regular maintenance is the key to keeping your landscape healthy.

Regular maintenance is the key to keeping your landscape healthy.

Regularity and moderation should guide your maintenance schedule. Avoid excessive pruning as natural beauty softens the landscape. If you choose well-adapted plants for your location, maintenance should be minimal. If you do encounter problems, try cultural, organic, physical, and mechanical means of pest control instead of chemicals.

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