Wednesday, December 6, 2023

7 Steps to a Smart Yard

Curious about how you can create a beautiful lawn while still saving money on your water bill at the same time?

Texas SmartScapeTM  has developed an all-encompassing landscape program for those that live in North Texas. Here are seven steps you can follow to turn your lawn into a masterpiece!

Step 1: Come to the Southlake Texas SmartScapeTM Plant Sale!  Start your smart yard off right! The City of Southlake has partnered with our local Home Depot to bring you a family parking lot event on April 23rd, 2016 from 8am-12pm. Come sift through many varieties of Texas SmartScapeTM plants, check out informational displays, win prizes, and more!

Have a plan in mind.

Step 2: Plan and Design! Start with the end in mind. Consider your family’s needs and desires when envisioning your perfect yard, and then look critically at what you already have in your yard. What are the permanent fixtures or restrictions? What plants do you want to keep? Prioritize your  needs and create a plan. It may help to sketch out your ideas.


Using more soil and less turf can reduce the amount of water used.

Step 3: Less Turf, More Soil! Reducing the amount of turf in your lawn means more money in your pocket because you won’t have to water as much! Add more flower beds instead with SmartScapeTM plants. Try adding large, sweeping curves or pathways to the landscape to make it visually appealing. Adding organic matter is also a 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.

plant search

The Smartscape database offers helpful ideas of suitable North Texas plants.

Step 4: Planting! The SmartScape online plant database can help you find additional plants that are well-suited to the North Texas environment. Native plants are naturally drought-tolerant, as well as disease- and pest-resistant. 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, remember to water the plant, water the hole, and water the plant in the hole.


Adding mulch helps reduce water evaporation.

  Step 5: Mulch! Regularly adding mulch to maintain about a 3-inch blanket is a good for beds and around trees. Mulch helps reduce evaporation  and cools soils in the summer by up to 10 degrees. It also helps reduce erosion, diseases, and prevents weeds from getting a foothold. Keep in mind  that when it comes to trunks or stems, instead of piling mulch up, you should instead lay it down as a in a shallow bowl shape around the trunk.


Make sure your irrigation system is running efficiently.

  Step 6: Be Water-Wise!  Efficient irrigation will save you a large amount money. The City of Southlake offers a free irrigation audit program,  known as W.I.S.E. guys, to the residents of Southlake. A licensed irrigator will come out to your property and inspect your irrigation system for  inefficiencies and broken parts. If you choose to get your system repaired, the City will provide you with a rebate of up to $200.


Regular maintenance is the key to a beautiful lawn.

Step 7: Maintenance!  Regularity and moderation should guide your maintenance schedule. Avoid excessive pruning as natural beauty softens the landscape. If you chose 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.


Follow these seven steps to create a work of art in your yard!


Wise Water Use and Lawn Care Events – Spring 2016

This spring, the City of Soutlake will be focused on promoting wise water use in and outside your home.

This March and April 2016, the City of Southlake is promoting several events that encourage wise water use and conservation inside and outside your home. The lists of events include:

“Fix a Leak” Week (March 14-20): This annual event aims to empower individuals to take control of water use in their homes by identifying and fixing common sources of water leaks. Beginning the week of March 14, a display will be in the lobby of Town Hall that shows helpful tips on identifying and fixing common household leaks. In addition, there will be several free items at tables near the display that will help you identify leaks, save water and save money.

The “Get to Know Your H2O” Forum (March 29): The conversation about water doesn’t stop once Fix a Leak Week is over. Join us March 29, 2016 at 6:00PM for the “Getting to Know Your H2O” forum to be held in the City Council Chambers of Town Hall. Come to the event and engage experts in a discussion about water use and conservation and hang around the lobby and learn what you can do to take control of your water use all year ’round.

Texas SmartScape™ Plant Sale (April 23): Searching for the best candidates for your landscape? Texas SmartScape™ will help you identify native or adaptive plants that can thrive with less water. This means you can save money and still have a beautiful yard. Go to the Southlake Home Depot at 300 S. Village Center Drive from 8:00am to 12:00pm on April 23rd to get ideas and tips for landscaping by talking with a master gardener, plant expert, or irrigation specialist.

Learn and Grow @ Bob Jones Nature Center (April 30): This free workshop at the Bob Jones Nature Center is all about lawn care. Speaker Dr. Dotty Woodson from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will discuss lawn care maintenance, the benefits of native and adaptive plants, and sprinkler system quick fixes. Space is limited for this workshop. RSVP with Leigh Langford at 817-491-6333 or

Take control of your water use and come join us in March and April for any or all of these events!

Save Water this Winter – Avoid Planting Winter Rye Grass

It may look lush, but Rye Grass could end up costing you water and money this winter

It may look lush, but Rye Grass could end up costing you a lot of  water and money this winter.

Water conservation is getting a big push in the City of Southlake beginning in 2016. As part of an ongoing effort to promote stewardship of water resources, the City will be rolling out a comprehensive campaign aimed at educating residents on responsible water use.

The goal of this effort isn’t just about water conservation, however. It’s also about helping residents save money by providing information and the tools necessary to make water conscious decisions in your day-to-day lives. In short, the motto for 2016 is “Save Tarrant Water”

Even though the official kick-off of this campaign doesn’t happen until 2016, you can start making water wise decisions right now. With the fall season upon us – even though the temperatures would lead you to believe otherwise –  many area residents are starting to think about transitioning from their summer landscape in preparation for cooler weather.

The “go to” grass in this landscape transition is usually fescue, better known as “winter rye.” However, you may want to reconsider planting new grass this fall and just let your existing lawn go dormant until spring. Here’s why:

  • Cool season grass species require regular irrigation (more water = more money) to maintain during the winter months. With the City in permanent twice a week watering restrictions, you may end up using more water than what’s permitted and a watering exemption will be needed to be filled out. The better solution is to allow your lawn to go dormant as the weather cools, turn off your sprinkler controller for the season and save water and money!
  • By not over-seeding with cool season grasses, warm season species (such as bermuda and zoysiagrass) grow back thicker and healthier after their return from winter dormancy because they aren’t having to fight against cooler season grasses for essential nutrients.

As the temperatures decrease this fall season, so too can your water use by letting your grass go dormant and turning off your sprinkler controller. Save water and save money by avoiding winter rye!

For information, helpful tips and to know what the City is doing to save water, visit the Public Works Department Water Conservation page here.  Stay tuned in 2016 to see what you can do to “Save Tarrant Water.”

Lawn Care Tips During Drought and Water Restrictions

Christi Upton Contact infoWinter 2013-2014 took a toll on Southlake lawns.  The beautiful St. Augustine lawns that many residents have faced moderate to severe damage due to the plunging temperatures. As warmer temperatures returned and because of the occasional rainfall received, most of the lawns that sustained minor damage are recovering. 

So what about the lawns that were severely damaged? Is there hope for recovery? Our Environmental Coordinator, Christi Upton says, “Yes! There is.”

Lawns that were severely damaged WILL recover. However, the recovery will take a little longer and will require a little more TLC than the occasional rainfall will provide.

We asked Christi to provide residents with some tips that will help your lawn’s path to recovery and revitalization and to survive through drought conditions.

Amend Your Soil

Amending the soil, which is mixing materials into the soil, will improve water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure. The goal is to provide a better environment for roots.

Amending the soil, even if the lawn is severely damaged, is always preferable to replacing your lawn. In fact, now is not the time to replace a lawn because of the persistent drought and City’s water restrictions. Lawn replacement requires too much water during a time when we have been asked to cut back on irrigation and to ensure we maintain the water supply for drinking, cooking, bathing, toilet flushing, firefighting and all the many other needs.  Amending the soil works well with the twice-a-week watering and provides plenty of water to help a severely damaged lawn recover.

Irrigation Evaluation

To keep lawns and landscapes looking good during drought and water restrictions, irrigation systems must work as efficiently as possible so all water applied will benefit the landscape. If your irrigation system is not working properly, no matter how much you water, the landscape suffers and water is wasted. The City of Southlake offers free irrigation evaluation to identify ways to increase irrigation efficiency from making repairs to setting the controller. Sign up for a free irrigation evaluation through the  WISE Guys.

Cycle and Soak Irrigation Method

Once your irrigation system is working efficiently, another water saving tip is to apply water in several short cycles instead of all at once. This method of irrigation is called cycle and soak. Most irrigation controllers have the ability to set the cycle and soak configuration.  To learn more about landscape watering and the cycle and soak method,  see the City’s Lawn Watering Tips webpage.

Judge Irrigation Requirements in the Morning

Pay close attention to how your lawn looks in the morning versus the afternoon versus the evening.  High afternoon summer temperatures cause plants to wilt, look off color, drop leaves and/or shrink even if there is significant moisture in the soil. Once the sun sets, the lawn and plants look normal. Irrigation will only be required if your lawn looks wilted and off color in the morning.  If in doubt, use a long screw driver to test for moisture in the soil. Push the screw driver into the soil (like a toothpick into a cake) to see how much moisture is in the soil. The screwdriver will push easily into moist soil and will not push easily into dry soil.

Mow Lawn Higher

Another water saving tip is to mow the lawn higher. Move the mower cutting height up one or two settings. The taller lawn shades the soil which reduces evaporation and encourages longer roots.

Mulch All Planted Areas

Mulch is like icing on a cake because mulch keeps the soil moist the same way icing keeps a cake moist. Mulch slows evaporation of water from the soil, allows water to infiltrate the soil efficiently; moderates the soil temperature; and breaks down into nutrients for the plants. Maintain a 2 to 4 inch mulch layer in all planted beds and containers.


For more information about water saving practices, visit the  Water Conservation page on the City of Southlake website.

Or you can visit the Texas A&M AgriLife web site at for water conserving information.