Water-smart Landscapes

The City of Bellevue’s Waterwise Garden is a demonstration full of water-saving ideas for gardens of any size, age or style. The plants are well suited to site conditions, and grouped according to water needs for efficiency. Colorful, low-maintenance plants are used. Compost added to the soil increases soil water retention, and mulches cover exposed soil to conserve water and prevent weeds. Drip irrigation and weather-based irrigation controllers minimize irrigation water waste. A dedicated outdoor water meter monitors water use.

Photo courtesy of the City of Bellevue

West Jordan, Utah

This yard demonstrates the lowest water-using landscape within the Jordan Valley Conservation Garden Park, which was created to showcase water-wise landscaping. Extreme drought tolerance is achieved by using many Utah native and drought-adapted plant species in gravel mulch. After a three-year establishment period, this landscape has survived on only rain and snowfall. The landscape demonstrates that proper plant choices based on climatic conditions can produce beautiful landscapes with minimal water and maintenance.

Photo courtesy of the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District

Plano, Texas

The owners of this landscape replaced Bermudagrass with low-water-using, native plant species. Organic soil amendments were added to increase water infiltration and retention. Colorado River rock at the base of the roof downspouts slows and diffuses rainwater, allowing for increased infiltration and reduced runoff. In addition to using less water, the native plant species in this landscape attract and feed native wildlife.

Photo by Tonia M. Biggs

Los Altos, Calif.

This landscape in California uses drought-tolerant plants to reduce watering, and mulch to cover the soil — retaining moisture for plant roots and reducing evaporation. Plants are grouped by hydrozone to save water, and shade trees increase passive cooling of the landscape, reducing evaporation. All hardscape is permeable, allowing stormwater to stay onsite; and an efficient irrigation system with multi-stream rotator spray heads and drip irrigation reduces water waste.

Photo by Julie Orr Design

Roseville, Calif.


This Mediterranean-inspired landscape design features low-water-using plants and porous hardscape material to minimize watering and allow rainwater to soak into the soil. More than 1,000 square feet of lawn was replaced by hollow pavers (as part of the driveway) filled with soil and thyme groundcover to enhance infiltration and minimize stormwater runoff. All soil is covered with synthetic mulch to hold moisture at the plant’s roots and reduce water loss from evaporation.

Photo by Katrina Leonidov Fairchild, APLD

For the full photo-essay article, and many more examples of water-efficient landscapes, see the September issue of Landscape and Irrigation magazine.

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