In a region projected to have more than 11.2 million people by 2045, local municipalities are working to address water quantity and quality concerns by promoting changes in the way residents landscape.
Texas SmartScape is a landscape program crafted to be "smart" for North Central Texas. Based on water-efficient landscape principles, it promotes the use of plants suited to our region's soil, climate, and precipitation that don't require much—if any—additional irrigation, pesticides, fertilizer, or herbicides to thrive.
The two main goals of the program:
- Improve stormwater runoff quality
- Conserve local water supplies
Many residents are unaware that their landscaping practices can result in wasted water through inefficient irrigation practices. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly one-third of all residential water use goes to watering landscape irrigation. Furthermore, the EPA notes that experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of water used for irrigation is wasted due to evaporation, wind, and runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems.
Many residents don't know that their plant choices or landscaping methods can have a tremendous impact on the amount of water, pesticides, or fertilizers they may need to apply to maintain a beautiful yard. They're also unaware that inefficient irrigation practices can create local water pollution, carrying fertilizers, pesticides, sediment, and other pollutants down storm drains and into creeks and streams.
Through this program, municipalities are teaching North Texans how to create beautiful landscapes that will survive the rains of spring, droughts of summer, and cold snaps of winter, while also protecting our water resources.
The Texas SmartScape website, one of the main educational tools, includes:
- Information on the ecological, economic, and aesthetic benefits of the program.
- Information about landscape best management practices such as drip irrigation, mulching, and composting.
- Design tools such as steps to take in design layout and how to incorporate drainage considerations.
- A searchable plant database that includes more than 400 perennials, groundcover, turf grass, shrubs, vines, and trees that will thrive in North Central Texas. (A West Texas plant list is also available.)
The Texas SmartScape program was created in 2000 as both a best management practice for new development for stormwater quality and a water conservation tool through a partnership between Tarrant County Health Department, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service), Tarrant Regional Water District, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Weston Gardens, and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). Program information was made first available in May 2001 via CD.
The first "March is Texas SmartScape Month" debuted in 2002 as part of a regional effort to promote the program's benefits.
In 2003, the Texas SmartScape website was developed through the sponsorship of the City of Irving, Dallas Water Utilities, North Texas Municipal Water District, Tarrant Regional Water District, and the Upper Trinity Regional Water District with the aim of making the program more accessible to the region's residents.
In 2005, the program was expanded to include the West Texas region through a partnership with the City of Lubbock.
The Texas SmartScape program has received several awards, including the 2002 Texas Environmental Excellence Award, the 2002 Watermark Award for Communications Excellence, and the Water Conservation/Reuse Award from the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association.
NCTCOG's Regional Stormwater Management Program also supported the Texas SmartScape plant sale initiative, which began in 2014 as a pilot with nine local governments. The Texas SmartScape plant sale initiative was a partnership between local governments and garden centers that aims to bring customers, Texas SmartScape plants, and environmental educators together to 1.) improve the public's level of awareness of the program and 2.) boost the commercial availability and viability of the plants included in the Texas SmartScape database.
In 2016, experienced horticulture and landscape experts evaluated the North Central Texas plant list and provided substantial updates, including additional landscape use information. These experts also added hundreds of plants. Check out the Texas SmartScape plant database.
Local governments and other organizations throughout North Central Texas are encouraged to celebrate the annual "March is Texas SmartScape Month." Throughout the region, organizations promote the program to teach residents about the "how's" and "why's" of Texas SmartScape. Read the FAQ below to find out more about SmartScape Month and how your local government or organization can participate.
Interested in attending a training event for municipal staff to learn about the Texas SmartScape program? Based on interest, a training may be held in January or February. Send us an email to let us know if you're interested. View presentation materials from previous years' training >
Why is March designated "Texas SmartScape Month"?
March Is Texas SmartScape Month is a regionally developed initiative supported by the Regional Stormwater Management Program's Public Education Task Force.
Interested organizations are encouraged to broadcast the Texas SmartScape message to their residents in March, as it's an active month for landscaping and an excellent time to conduct public education and outreach on water conservation, pollution prevention, and composting.
Each year, the Public Education Task Force and NCTCOG staff develop a Texas SmartScape newsletter template with a new slogan and public service announcement (PSA) image for that year. Participants are highly encouraged to tailor the newsletter template and use the PSA images. Access is provided for the March Is Texas SmartScape promotional items.
Can my local government or organization participate in Texas SmartScape Month?
Of course! While participation is voluntary, the entire region is encouraged to promote March Is Texas SmartScape Month.
How can we participate in Texas SmartScape Month?
Your entity determines the participation level based on your resources and organizes a promotional event or other educational element during the month of March. While promotional items have been developed by the Public Education Task Force, it's up to you and your organization to make Texas SmartScape Month a success in your community.
Below are a few ideas for how to participate in Texas SmartScape Month. View the full list >
- Provide a link to the Texas SmartScape website (www.txsmartscape.com) from your home page.
- Team up with a local Keep Texas Beautiful coordinator, local newspaper, or garden club to organize a yard contest or recognition program.
- Set up a display with information on Texas SmartScape in your municipal center or library using Texas SmartScape materials, or ask local hardware, home improvement, and/or bookstores to set up a display.
- Ask large businesses in your community for contributions for the plants to install a Texas SmartScape demonstration garden.
- Send a postcard with contact information for key city staff/departments to neighborhood associations. Let people know that city staff are available to talk about stormwater management, composting, water conservation, etc., at neighborhood meetings and special events.
- Offer to present Texas SmartScape workshops to employee groups at large local businesses.
- Ask local homebuilders, realtors, and mortgage lenders to add the Texas SmartScape webpage link to their website, or provide a Texas SmartScape brochure and/or bookmark to new homeowners. (Texas SmartScape bookmarks are available as a free, printable file upon request.)
- Coordinate a Texas SmartScape plant sale initiative. These typically kick off in March but include sale dates throughout the spring. Partnership with chapters of the Native Plant Society of Texas, Master Gardners, or local garden clubs is encouraged.
What if our event is planned for another month?
While March was selected as the month to build regional awareness, Texas SmartScape events are often held in other months. Check out upcoming Texas SmartScape-related events on the Texas SmartScape website. Have an event to add to the list? Email us with the event details.
PSA images and other promotional material created for the annual Texas SmartScape Month campaign
- 2023 SmartScape Month - When in Drought...Plant Natives!
- 2022 SmartScape Month - Plant Smarter. Plant Natives.
- 2021 SmartScape Month - Texas Tough, Texas True
- 2020 SmartScape Month - Native. Adaptive. Attractive.
- 2019 SmartScape Month - Plant with a Purpose
- 2018 SmartScape Month - Put Down Some Roots
- Image option 1: Put Down Some Roots [JPG]
- 2017 SmartScape Month – Plants that thrive, rain or shine!
- Image option 1: Raining Sunshine [JPG]
Texas SmartScape PSA video (courtesy of City of Garland)
Texas SmartScape Train-the-Speaker resources
The following are resources to help you make your SmartScape event successful! Feel free to use and tailor the presentation templates to fit your PowerPoint needs.
- 2016 Class:
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: Texas SmartScape: Protecting Water Resources [pdf]
- 2011 Class:
- Texas AgriLife Extension, Landscape Design and Maintenance for Water Quality and Conservation [ppt]
- Photos of SmartScape Gardens [pdf]
- Partnership Opportunities [pdf]
- 2009 Class: Landscape Design and Maintenance for Water Quality and Water Conservation [ppt]
- 2008 Class:
- 2007 Class: NCTCOG- Texas SmartScape and the Stormwater quality connection [PDF]
If you need a speaker, contact one of the below resources to see if they can help:
- Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth, (817) 392-5534
- Botanical Research Institute of Texas, (817) 332-4441
- County Master Gardeners: http://mastergardener.tamu.edu/county-programs/