WaterSmart Series fosters healthy landscapes
WaterSmart Series fosters healthy landscapes
Posted on 04/10/2019
WaterSmart Series fosters healthy landscapes

Expect El Paso Water’s Spring WaterSmart Landscape Series to get animated. In his more than 30 years of experience in forestry, Oscar Mestas – retired regional urban forester of Texas A&M Forest Service – has picked up a few tricks of the trade.

Mestas’ sessions often involve student interaction, with some role-playing, performances and games. 

“When I teach classes, it’s always fun to get people out of their chairs,” Mestas said. “I don’t want to just sit there and talk; I want to ask participants what they want to learn.”

Smart water usage

The free spring series includes four sessions, and participants are welcome to attend one or all:

  • Introduction to Desert Living: Thursday, March 14, 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Designing Your Landscape: Saturday, March 16, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Soils and Water: Thursday, March 21, 5-7 p.m.
  • Plant Selection and Maintenance: Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All sessions are open to the public and will be led by Mestas at the TecH2O Learning Center, 10751 Montana Ave.

“I want participants to know that water conservation in the desert is very important, and I think we use more water than we need,” Mestas said. “I want to teach them that there are a lot of plants out there that don’t really use a lot of water.”

Mestas has had a long career in water conservation and remembers meeting a former utility water conservation manager about 30 years ago. Mestas’ job was to promote urban tree canopy.

“If people in El Paso are going to plant trees, we might as well get them to plant trees that are adaptable to the Chihuahuan Desert and use less water,” Mestas said. “I told him, ‘Let’s work together,’ and he agreed.”

Desert growth

Mestas also welcomes the opportunity to dispel old myths El Paso gardeners may have heard, such as inserting a ring of nails in the ground around a tree helps give the tree its iron source.

“That doesn’t do anything but put nails in the ground,” Mestas said. “Those are interesting things people believe, and I always wonder what is behind myths and how they were started.”

Anai Padilla, Water Conservation and TecH2O Manager, has collaborated with Mestas over the years and is looking forward to his workshops.

“We want customers to know that they can create a water-efficient landscape that is not only practical, but beautiful and efficient,” Padilla said. “Many El Pasoans may think that because we live in the desert, we can’t have a lovely garden, and that is not true.”


For more information about the series, please call 915-621-2000. EPWater offers an online resource for water smart plants and gardens at elpasodesertblooms.org.

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