NTMWD employees #PledgeToPlantSmart on the job

Part of the District’s mission is to promote water conservation, usually by educating the public on how to use water more efficiently. Here at NTMWD, we practice what we preach. Around the buildings of our Wylie campus, we used native plants and a minimalist approach in our landscaping. The trend seems to be catching on, even among our employees.

Drew McClendon and Robert Hellner enjoy their work outside the NOPS building in Wylie.

Recently, two employees took it upon themselves to add a SmartScape design to dress up the front of their building. Drew McClendon, an ozone instrumentation technician, and Robert Hellner, ozone superintendent, worked together to landscape the front of the north ozone operations building. As the largest fully-ozonated water treatment facility in the country, the north ops building is a frequent stop for visitors to our facility such as city and state officials and staff, elected officials, water industry professionals, and more.

“Because so many people stop in to see our ozone operations, we thought it would be nice to make the building look more welcoming,” said Hellner. “Not only does it look better, but it also shows that we practice what we preach when it comes to water conservation.”

According to Hellner, the idea was mostly McClendon’s, whose parents run a landscaping company. Thanks to his connections, native plants were acquired at a discounted rate. They chose to plant ornamental grass, lantanas, and English rosemary, among others. Most of the landscaping materials, such as the crushed granite and decorative boulders, were reclaimed from other projects or found on the water treatment plant. They even fashioned their own irrigation system out of leftover PVC pipe and connected it to a garden hose for manual watering – per the weekly recommendations of WaterMyYard.org, of course. A few chairs and a donated garden gnome completes the look and makes for a nice outdoor spot for employees to use during break time.

Since installing the SmartScape, McLendon says they have seen various wildlife attracted to the garden. “We’ve spotted hummingbirds, a tree frog, and monarch butterflies out here,” he said. “It didn’t cost very much to do, but it was worth the effort.”

Take the #PledgeToPlantSmart

Outdoor water use, such as watering the lawn or washing cars in the driveway, is one of the biggest water wasters. That’s why this year’s water conservation campaign is about taking the #PledgeToPlantSmart with native and adapted plants.

Native plants are drought tolerant, requiring a lot less watering, and can withstand the heat of our hot Texas summers. Adapted plants are not native, but have managed to adapt to and thrive in our extreme temperatures. Both are excellent choices for landscaping in North Texas, and the #PledgeToPlantSmart campaign encourages homeowners and businesses to use these water-efficient plants instead of more traditional (and thirsty) plants.

For more information, visit the North Texas Water IQ website and click on #PledgeToPlantSmart.

McClendon and Hellner fashioned an irrigation system out of PVC pipe for manual watering.

A gnome peeks out from the ornamental grass to keep watch over the garden.

A boulder found by the train and crushed granite adds texture and visual appeal to the landscape design.

Barrel planters flank the garden to add a little more interest to the garden.