Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dallas Water-Wise Landscape Tour Part 1

The Dallas Water-Wise Landscape Tour was this past weekend. It was also the first full weekend we have had in some time when it was not raining, so garden tours were low on my priority list. I have a garden at home that has been neglected for the last month because of the rain and needs some attention. Even so, I could not resist hitting a few of the closer gardens.

The first stop was the North Tour Headquarters at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center on Coit Road in far north Dallas. There used to be an interesting collection of native plants in the parking lots and around the buildings near Coit Road. I believe those plants have a connection to plantsman and co-founder of the Texas Native Plant Society, Benny Simpson. Unfortunately, those plant were removed over the last few years.

On this day, visitors were directed to two new demonstration "houses" that are landscaped with water-wise plants. The goal is to introduce visitors to different ways to save water, both inside and out. Of course, one way to save water is the use of native and adapted plants in the landscape. 

A carpet of lawn is the prominent feature in the front yard. I did not recognize the variety of grass. Maybe something A&M is experimenting with. Near the house are several native shrubs and perennials.

The left side of the front yard features a dry creek bed, yuccas and other native plants.

A pathway leads visitors into the backyard.

There are a couple of of flagstone patio areas with a small lawn beyond.

A bench invites visitors to take a seat on this small flagstone patio. It looks like a concrete bench seat was placed on concrete pavers set in a spiral.

A dry creek bed cuts through the backyard.  

Looking back in the opposite direction. Those are large (unused?) greenhouses on the opposite side of the fence.

A large cistern collects rainwater from the roof on this side of the house. Dottie Woodson was inside the house sharing water-wise information about the house and gardens. She commented that the fence at the back has space between the slats for wind flow which will have a cooling effect when it blows across the plant. Why? Because plants release moisture into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration. When the wind blows across the plants, it causes the moisture to evaporate and evaporation is a cooling process.

This is the front of the second house. It also has a lawn. I did not pay attention to these rectangular gravel beds until looking at the photos. There seems to be a row of them. Maybe they are intended to serve as a pathway? 
The back side of the house has a swale with wildflowers, succulents, and grasses on the edge.  

This photo was taken from the other backyard. 

This rain (and perhaps dew) collection system was connected to a drip irrigation system. I think the people in the background were heading to the turf grass test fields for info about various grasses being tested.

This is the view looking back toward the backyard and vegetable garden from the front side of the house. That is snakeherb in the left foreground. It loves to spread, but has nice purple blooms in the spring and fall and endures the summer with little to no water.

I was interested in these Growtainers. Unfortunately, they did not appear to be open to visitors. According to their website, Growtainers are the portable farms of the future. They are a highly engineered modular and mobile vertical production environment:  a specially designed and constructed 40’ insulated shipping container that has been modified to provide the optimum controlled vertical environment for growing a wide range of horticultural and agricultural products in all environments and climates. 

That's all for now. I will try to post some highlights from the rest of the Dallas Water-Wise tour soon. I also have a few pictures from the Plano Water-Wise tour.


  1. I don't usually think of lawns as being water-wise but I have to say that in my full shade environment in the backyard the St. Augustine very rarely needs irrigation. I haven't watered it in years. But I kind of want more than something water wise. Grass is kind of boring and has almost no wildlife benefit.

    I sure hope those containers aren't the future of farming for a variety of reasons. heh Benny Simpson sounds like he was an interesting person. I would have loved to go on a plant hunt with him.

  2. Very interesting post; thank you. I imagine after all the rain your state received, those cisterns were full?

  3. I tried e-mailing through your e-mail side-bar but it didn't seem to go through. Got stuck on 'sending'. I was writing to see if you would be interested in a guest blogging opportunity with Gardening Know How? If so, please e-mail me for details at:
    shelley AT gardeningknowhow DOT com



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