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Southlake Style

Green Scene

Jun 08, 2016 04:37PM ● By Dia

Scorching heat and water restrictions: Two things that stand in the way of a phenomenal lawn and garden this summer. Or do they? Ian MacLean is president of Highland Landscaping, the company behind some of Southlake’s most stunning displays of landscaping. He has good news for anyone wishing for a lush, green lawn: It’s absolutely a possibility. 

Q: Summer is in full swing. What should homeowners know about watering?

A: It needs to be done less frequently with a focus on deeper waterings. Turn on each zone of your sprinkler system and watch as it waters the lawn. When you see water start to pool off, take note of the time—say seven or 10 minutes. This tells you when the soil in that area has become saturated at the surface. You can then program your sprinkler system to run according to that time and run it for several cycles within your watering day. This simulates a slow, soaking rain, and it will bring the most benefit to your lawn or landscape. It also encourages your lawn, shrubs and perennials to grow deeper roots.

Q: What’s your advice on the timing of watering? 

A: Observe your plants after you have a watering day. When you see the first signs of wilting, you know how long your lawn and landscape can go between waterings. You want to continue to stretch this time period. With some gradual finessing, you can encourage the plants to grow even deeper roots. When you have trained your landscape to grow deep roots, it will soak up all the water that is getting into the soil.

Q: Is there anything most homeowners aren’t doing that they should be doing?

A: Homeowners should check and program their sprinkler system four times a year. At the beginning of each season, run through your sprinkler system and check each zone. Almost all homeowners are surprised at the number of malfunctions they find. Also, many homeowners leave the same program on their sprinkler system all year long. You shouldn’t use the same program in March that you’d use in July. And last, homeowners should upgrade their irrigation technology. Many people still have their 1995 sprinkler controller on the wall. The technology has evolved drastically.

Q: How can homeowners keep lawns green despite water restrictions? 

A: By putting water restrictions in place, it forces property owners to utilize their watering day to do long cycles or multiple cycles, and then wait a few days before they do it again. There’s a lot of great information on the Save Southlake Water blog at

Q: Any smart tips for keeping water bills down this summer?

A: Get a rain-free sensor and smart controller. The sensor has a rain gauge built into it. If there’s a light rain, it’ll keep the system from running that day. If there’s a lot of rain, the sensor will hold the rain and won’t let the sprinkler run until it evaporates.

Q: You’ve worked on residential and commercial projects for 14 years. What do you enjoy most about making the city picturesque?

A: We’re working on awakening the region to the use of native and adaptive plant species. Because this area is made up of many people who are transplants from other parts of the country, they naturally migrate to plants they’re familiar with. In our hot Texas climate, these plants require more water and maintenance. Native and adapted plant species require less maintenance and less water. They can pretty much survive with what they get naturally, and with just a little supplemental irrigation, they can thrive. For a long time, native plant species were viewed as unruly and wild, and we’re trying to change people’s thinking in light of the fact that everybody is looking for lower maintenance costs.

Q: You were involved in the development of Brian R. Stebbins Memorial Park. Where did you draw inspiration and how does it feel to see the park complete? 

A: Highland Landscaping, Cooper and Stebbins and TBG Partners conceived the idea for the park. I personally made trips to five different regions of Texas to study native plants in their indigenous environments. It’s tremendously exciting. This park was undoubtedly the most prominent project we’ve done as a company in our 14-year history. It’s truly an opportunity to be at the leading edge of our industry. My brother and business partner, Jason MacLean, and I are excited to be part of something that’s a fixture in the community.