Jerry Haynes from the Grayson County Master Gardeners Discusses Smartscaping

By: Abby Powell
By: Abby Powell

SMARTSCAPING is a set of techniques and gardening philosophy developed right here in Texas by Texas A&M for improving your landscape while saving money. Jerry Haynes from the Grayson County Master Gardeners tells us about all of the benefits of this technique.

Any visually pleasing garden or landscape has a soothing effect. A well landscaped yard will cause us to slow down while we look at the beauty in nature. A garden or landscape awakens a child-like curiosity in us to explore and know more about the natural world around us. A garden area represents a buffer zone from pressures of the outside world. No matter what the reason, time spent enjoying a garden or landscape is satisfying and relaxing.

Although it may sound contradictory, working in a garden is a stress reliever too. Many gardeners say pulling weeds, digging in the dirt or planting flowers takes their minds off everyday worries.

Additionally, having extra time is a stress reliever. Since native and adapted plants typically require less time to maintain, you have the option of spending less time in your landscape.

Many people use their vacation time to "get away from it all." Leaving the hustle and bustle of their urban lives behind, they travel to remote destinations to enjoy the beauty, tranquility and wildlife of our natural world. Ironically, we can all enjoy these benefits year round by re-creating a natural world on our own backyards. Unlike some of the other benefits we have outlined above, it is difficult to quantify the value a SmartScape® will provide in terms of stress relief.

Given the ever-quickening pace of modern life, it may be the most subtle, but profound reason to switch to a more natural landscape. As civilized as we think we are, we apparently still have a very innate need to commune with nature. Why so many of us enjoy pets and fill our houses with plants of all kinds? Even the most sterile subdivisions are given names that belie the paucity of anything remotely natural; Whispering Oaks, Glen Cove, Shady Meadows, ad infinitum.

Clearly something in us craves that which is natural. Jeff Cox, author of Landscaping with Nature, stated, "Wilderness gives people a place to go for deep healing . . . it enhances human physical, mental and spiritual health." He goes on to point out that in this country we tend to do one of two things with wilderness, we either pave it or preserve it. There is however a third choice, one that more people are beginning to choose and appreciate - welcoming nature back into our own living areas, our own backyards. Cox states, "Landscaping with nature gives us reason to go to nature and learn from her and to re-create some of her beautiful features in our gardens. When we landscape with nature, we evoke favorite natural places through the use of wood, water, plants and stone."

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