Tuesday, December 5, 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!


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 http://dallas.tamu.edu for water conserving information.