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The 40 Acres receives eco-friendly facelift

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TWC News: The 40 Acres receives eco-friendly facelift
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Despite one of the worst droughts in state history, the University of Texas campus is blooming with color.

The flourishing environment is part of a campus-wide landscape renovation project that aims to use more efficient, water-wise techniques and drought-resistant plants. It’s a strategy called “xeriscaping.”

"Plant material that was used back years ago, they didn't have that in mind. It was all, 'Let's irrigate it, let's water it and make a very lush environment," UT Landscape Supervisor Brett Gustafson said. "A lot of the yuccas, Texas sotol, prickly pears, birds of paradise. That stuff works great down here."

At the university’s alumni center, landscapers are planting Dwarf Wax Myrtles and Asian Jasmine for ground cover. The turf will be Discovery Bermuda, a grass that doesn’t require much mowing.

By using more native and drought-resistant plants, the university expects to cut their water use almost in half.

"What we're doing and moving forward with for the future of the campus is going to be essential,” Gustafson said. “Especially with water management, plant knowledge and native and adaptive plant material."

So far, the new landscaping is already attracting transplants who are new to campus.

"It's beautiful here. I went to Boston College during the year in Massachusetts and that's also a gorgeous campus, but this is even bigger. We really like it here," visitor Katie Burns said.

The new xeriscaping does require some initial investment. However, since the plants are more adapted to the Central Texas climate, landscapers expect the school will save about 30 percent of the long term cost.

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