TCU freshman Lauren Fred said she has never been very involved in community affairs activities. However, this semester she is deeply involved in a community project on campus, she said. The advertising/public relations major is part of a group of students trying to instate an open campus meal program that would allow students to use their student ID cards to purchase food at local restaurants.

For North Texas residents looking to create a water-conscious landscape, the options extend far beyond cacti and tumbleweed.
The Texas Smartscape program educates homeowners on creating sustainable landscapes that can thrive without city water.
“People have this misconception that we can only grow cacti, but there is a huge array of beautiful plants that can not only survive in Texas but bloom all summer long,” said Dotty Woodson, one of Smartscape’s creators.
Woodson said that Texas Smartscape operates based on the five principles of water conservation: garden design, plant selection, efficient irrigation, soil preparation and maintaining a mulch layer.
The Smartscape website provides garden design tools, care instructions and a plant search engine for Texas residents to create water-conserving landscapes.
For instance, Snake HerbHardy Plumbago and Dwarf Pomegranate are all colorful native plants that bloom throughout the summer, according to the site.
The website also outlines a six-step plan for designing a garden layout, as well as information on drainage, soil, mulch, sun, watering and conservation.
In addition, plant search tools allow users to find specific plants according to region, plant type, light requirement, ornamental color, wildlife value and blooming.
Stephanie Zavala, a water conservation specialist at the Fort Worth Water Department, said a lot of people want to create sustainable landscapes.
“But they struggle to find the right plants at local nurseries,” Zavala said.
She said that’s where Smartscape comes in.
Smartscape offers plant sales through partnerships with Home Depot and smaller independent vendors. Zavala, who initiated the plant sales, said that residents can purchase plants featured on the Smartscape website in a “parking lot party” atmosphere.
The Smartscape plant sales aim to remove any obstacles for residents wanting a native and sustainable landscape, Zavala said.
More North Texas residents are embracing the sustainable landscape principles taught by Smartscape. Last spring, eight cities across North and Central Texas participated in the plant sales.
Twenty-one cities plan to partner with Home Depot and other nurseries for this spring’s sales, Zavala said.
Fort Worth partners with Home Depot and Weston Gardens for plant sales beginning in April.
In addition, Texas Smartscape offers educational events. On March 7 at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, residents can go to a series of lectures, a panel discussion and a view the Botanic Garden’s water conservation demonstration garden.
Event details about Texas Smartscape month, coming in March, are on Smartscape’s online schedule.
Julia Sanders is the 109’s water conservation reporter.  Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sanders_julia