It is estimated that half of the total household water use during the summer months goes to landscapes, according to a report by the Botanic Research Institute of Texas (BRIT).
To address this, BRIT and the Fort Worth Water Department are partnering to sponsor the third annual EcoScape residential summer landscape contest. The contest aims to find the homeowner with the most creative, attractive and water efficient lawn in the area.
The project was created in an effort to raise awareness of wasteful water usage and to challenge area homeowners to create water efficient landscapes.
According to a news release sent out by the Fort Worth Water Department, the contest runs from June 14 to August 16. It will be judged on three key criteria: design, water conservation and appropriate maintenance.
The design criteria includes: aesthetic appeal, composition and use of color and plant variety.
The water conservation criteria includes: efficient irrigation/water use, use of non-vegetative materials such as fences, walls, walks, etc., use of native and/or adapted plants, reduced turf area and use of mulches
The appropriate maintenance criteria includes: a healthy landscape and whether plants are pruned as appropriate.
Though the contest arose from a drought, it is still just as important in times of heavy rain, said Hilda Zuniga, a public education specialist for the Fort Worth Water Department.
“In seasons with heavy rain such as we’ve been getting, it’s not so much about conservation as it is efficiency,” she said.
She added that the contest judges also evaluate the garden owner’s water bill, because saving money is an added incentive to efficient gardening.
“Even though our lakes are full right now, the Tarrant Regional Water District is saying it is only a year’s worth,” Zuniga said. “So it won’t always be like this.”
Linda Christie, the community and government relations director at the TRWD said even in times of heavy rain, efficient water use should always be in the interest of residents.
Residents with 1,000-square-foot (or larger) front yards are eligible and are invited to submit their water efficient yards that use native/adaptive plants and mix according to color, aesthetic appeal, and plant variety, according to the contest website.
Micah Reed is Fort Worth’s water conservation manager.
“Each summer, residential water use in Fort Worth increases by 30 to 40 percent.” he said. “This increase can largely be attributed to outdoor water use and lawn watering.”
“Recently, we’ve made great strides to reduce overwatering, and your participation in this contest can help reduce it even more,” he said.
Registration is still open for the 2015 contest at BRIT’s website.
The first-third place winners are set to receive prizes including BRIT membership, a rain barrel and “master composter” course registration.
The EcoScape contest is open to residential landscapes within Fort Worth city limits and Fort Worth’s wholesale customer cities, including all areas mentioned here.