This summer, Fort Worth joined other cities, including Dallas and Coppell, in promoting water-conservation with landscaping competition.

Sept. 29, 2013
When many North Texas lawns appeared scorched following the final days of summer, the city of Fort Worth announced the winners of its inaugural EcoScape contest last week.  

Residents in Fort Worth and 25 surrounding communities with 1,000-square-foot front yards or larger were eligible. Lawns were judged on design, maintenance and water conserving features. (Above, First place winner Betty Porter. Photos courtesy city of FW.)

The contest was hosted by the Fort Worth Water Department and the Botanical Research Institute of Texas to raise awareness about water conservation in lawn care. The city estimates that up to 50 percent of all water used in the summer months goes to maintaining residential landscapes.

“Employing water saving methods like rain water harvesting, composting, drip irrigation and planting native and adaptive plants not only helps lower monthly water bills, but can also significantly reduce the amount of water needed from area lakes,” said assistant water director Kara Shuror. 

They patterned the competition after Dallas’ Water-Wise Landscaping Contest, which will be celebrating its 20th year next spring. However while Dallas hosts its competition in April as the blooming season begins, Fort Worth judged yards in September, following weeks of drought and high temperatures. The city of Coppell started the trend with its annual late summer Texas SmartScape Tour. (Above, second place winner Kathy Clark)

“It’s the perfect time to show you can have a beautiful lawn while conserving water even during the summertime,” said Hilda Zuniga, public education specialist for the city of Fort Worth. 

Zuniga said all of the winning homeowners advocated the use of native plants. Reduced turf, ground cover and compost bins were common features. The judges also compared homeowners’ water bills from winter and summer to see how much their water usage increased seasonally. 

The winners were as follows: First Place, Betty Porter, 3217 Field Street, Haltom City; Second Place, Kathy Clark, 4005 W. 6th Street, Fort Worth; and Third Place, Rick Tucker, 2517 Ryan Avenue, Fort Worth. (Above, third place winner Rick Tucker.)

Each will receive a winner’s sign and a membership to BRIT. In addition the first place winner receives a compost bin and a 50-gallon rain barrel.

While organizers admitted they didn’t receive many entries this year, they plan to host the contest again next year, in hopes that participation will grow. Part of the challenge is just getting the word out.  

“We had several people call after the deadline,” said Zuniga. “That makes me think more people would be interested if they knew about it.”

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