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Sep 2011 cover image hunting
From Gov. Rick Perry

The beauty of Texas is mirrored in the eyes of every child experiencing the natural wonders of our great state’s wilderness for the first time. From the dunes in O’Donnell to the pines of Milam down to the waters of the Rio Grande, the rich diversity of our landscapes truly sets us apart.

As we enjoy this land, we must remember our role as caretakers and stewards of Texas and preserve its beauty for generations to come. One way to economically meet this obligation is wildscaping, a landscaping technique that both preserves and celebrates our natural heritage.

Wildscaping incorporates plants indigenous to Texas into our landscaping designs, creating habitats for native birds, butterflies, honeybees and other wildlife, while reducing the amount of water necessary to maintain them, compared to a more traditional garden populated by non-native plants. The average Texas family can save 30 to 80 percent on water bills just by landscaping with plants that flourish in our climate.

You don’t have to be wild about the wilderness or have a thumb the color of spring grass to incorporate these landscaping techniques at your home.

No matter your skill level in the garden, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department personnel are a great source of information for those eager to get started. TPWD urban wildlife biologist Kelly Conrad Bender literally wrote the book on the practice, Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife. Through the agency’s Texas Wildscapes program, she and other TPWD biologists have helped thousands of Texans develop and grow these landscapes at their homes and in their communities. Her book, along with informational websites and online videos produced by TPWD, can point anyone in the right direction.

Wildscapes are not just trends for backyards and terraces around the home, either. Community parks, commercial building properties, golf courses, retention ponds, schools and other large-scale landscaping projects can also benefit from incorporating native plant species.

As Kelly says, it’s important to consider which species you want to attract, and plan your landscaping area accordingly. Every bird, lizard and bat is interested in specific plants or plant groupings, so be sure to direct your efforts toward the needs of your intended visitors. If you choose not to be so focused, select a variety of plants native to your area that suit you and watch to see what shows up to admire your handiwork.

If you do choose to get into the trend, consider certifying your property as a state-recognized wildscape area. Business and community spaces looking to formally reduce water use or to preserve their Texas roots may find formal certification to be advantageous to furthering these goals.

So bring a little bit of Texas closer to your heart – and your front door – by planning your own wildscape for your next home improvement project.

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