updated 9:52 PM EDT, Mar 26, 2015
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Green lawns in Texas

Native and Adapted Plants Help Keep Rivers Flowing

By John Michaelson

AUSTIN, Texas - With drought conditions persisting through the state, more Texans are discovering a solution in their backyards - and putting native plants into landscaping can pay off in more ways than one. 

Jennifer Ellis, senior project coordinator with the Texas Living Waters Project of the National Wildlife Federation, says many Texas native plants are naturally drought-resistant, and that means less watering and lower water bills.

"We put an enormous amount of potable water on lawns every year and particularly during the summer, when it's hot and dry," she says. "So we can really reduce our water use by instead choosing to use native plants that are more adapted to the hot, dry weather."

And Ellis says by using drought-resistant native plants and reducing water use at home, more water will be flowing in Texas' rivers for fish and wildlife.

"They also provide habitat for wildlife," she says, "whether that's through providing shelter or food, so it's very helpful to use natives in landscapes from both perspectives."

Many native plants are also naturally resistant to pests and diseases and require less fertilizing. Some are more appropriate in certain areas than others, so ask your local garden center. 

According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly two-thirds of Texas is in a severe drought or worse.