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Texas AgriLife Extension Service Texas Water Development Board Texas Nursery and Landscape Association Texas AgriLife Extension Service Texas AgriLife Extension Service
A supplement to the Best Management Practices Manual produced by the Texas Water Conservation Task Force.
What is a WaterWise Landscape?
A landscape designed and maintained according to basic good horticultural principles that allow for a beautiful healthy landscape with minimal supplemental irrigation and no adverse runoff from the landscape property. A WaterWise landscape can be evaluated according to its use of seven basic principles:

Appropriate plant selection:
Select trees, shrubs and groundcovers based on their adaptability to your region's soil and climate. Texas is blessed with an abundance of beautiful native plants which are naturally adapted to the region. Most have lower water demands, fewer pest problems and less fertilizer needs than many nonadapted, exotic plants brought into Texas landscapes. Use our PlantSelector to determine which plants are best adapted for your region.

Planning and design:
A WaterWise landscape doesn't just happen. It is intentionally designed to enhance the natural space with minimal environmental impact.

Soil preparation:
Preparation of the bed areas for annuals and perennials and planting holes for trees and shrubs is crucial to their survival...

Practical turf areas:
Turf areas are important to the well-balanced urban landscape. Select the appropriate grass species and consider the size and geometry of turf areas for optimal water use...

Efficient irrigation:
Of the tremendous amounts of water applied to lawns and gardens, much of it is never absorbed by the plants and put to use. Some water is lost to runoff by being applied too rapidly, and some water evaporates from exposed, unmulched soil; but, the greatest waste of water is applying too much too often.

Use of mulches:
Use a mulch wherever possible. A good mulch conserves water by significantly reducing moisture evaporation from the soil. Mulch also reduces weed populations, prevents soil compaction and keeps soil temperatures more moderate.

Appropriate maintenance:
An added benefit of WaterWise landscapes is less maintenance. A well-designed landscape can decrease maintenance by as much as 50 percent through reduced mowing; once-a-year mulching; elimination of weak, unadapted plants; and more efficient watering techniques.

Originating in Colorado under the title, "XeriscapeTM," WaterWise landscaping approaches combine seven principals of good landscape practices to produce water efficient landscapes. These landscapes are an attractive alternative to the turfgrass lawn which does not always perform well in areas with rocky soil, high summer temperatures and long periods without rain. Does this sound like anyplace in Texas?

By proper planning, design, soil analysis and amendments, appropriate plant selection, efficient irrigation techniques, appropriate use of turf, mulches, and maintenance, a successful, appealing landscape can be developed without increasing peak summertime demands on our stressed water systems.

The seven principles of WaterWise landscaping are described herein, along with summary programmatic and ordinance approaches which can assist utilities engaged in implementing best management practices for water conservation.

A key element in planning the WaterWise landscape is the selection of environmentally-appropriate plants. Our PlantSelector database is "regionalized," so that the order in which plants are presented to you varies with your locality. The landscape plants in the database have each been rated by a team of "plant experts" knowledgeable about the best plants for their regions.

We hope this online resource helps you better plan YOUR WaterWise landscape!