Highlighting 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

San Diego

This low-maintenance, water-saving landscape is part of a master-planned community noted for environmentally sustainable landscaping measures. The front yard uses drought-tolerant trees, ground covers, shrubs and potted plants to reduce water need. Mulch covers the soil, reducing water loss through evaporation and preventing weed growth. The efficient drip irrigation system is controlled by a Smart, weather-based irrigation controller.

Photo courtesy of Pardee Homes

Naples, Fla.

This yard was transformed into a lush, Florida-friendly landscape that saves its owner time, money and water, while also contributing less stormwater runoff to the neighborhood. All plant material in this yard is drought-tolerant and appropriate for Florida’s climate. Planting beds are mulched 3 inches deep with Melaeuca to conserve water at the plant’s roots. The irrigation system includes a rain sensor and high-efficiency pop-up sprinklers, drip, and micro-jets to irrigate directly at the root zone of the plant.

Photo courtesy of the South Florida Water Management District

Schaumburg, Ill.

This native perennial landscape uses plants well adapted to local soils and environmental conditions, including summer heat and drought. Native landscapes reduce maintenance costs associated with labor, water, fertilizer, herbicides and mowing, while also increasing the property’s capacity to intercept rainfall. The roots of native plants are very dense and deep, and hold water well — dramatically limiting soil erosion caused by flooding and runoff.

Photo courtesy of Tallgrass Restoration, LLC

Orem, Utah

The Central Utah demonstration gardens encourage efficient water use in Utah landscapes. This public garden saves water by limiting turf areas and using alternate turf varieties and medium-, low-, and very-low-water-using plants. The site also incorporates organic and inorganic mulches to conserve water at the plants’ roots, and soil amendments increase permeability and water retention. Efficient drip irrigation and microsprays also reduce water waste.

Photo courtesy of Central Utah Gardens

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Drought-tolerant, succulent plants and native trees create a desert oasis landscape that needs minimal watering. Swales filled with local rocks help collect water, increase infiltration, and reduce runoff. Native trees produce shade, reducing evaporative water loss, and placement of larger rocks on the southwest sides of plants shade and cool roots, which conserves moisture. When supplemental water is needed, it is provided through efficient drip irrigation.

Photo by Carol Stuttard

Tacoma, Wash.

The City of Tacoma’s Evirohouse is a permanent model home showcasing green building and natural landscape ideas. It features native, low-water-using and drought-tolerant plants that are appropriate for the region’s climate. Planting beds are hydrozoned to include medium-, low-, and very-low-water-using beds. Soil amendments build organic matter and increase moisture, and mulch is used to reduce soil water loss. Multi-stream rotator spray heads, drip irrigation, and a weather-based irrigation controller ensure that plants are getting only the water they need, when they need it. Roof runoff is captured in rain barrels for use on the landscape.

Photo courtesy of the City of Tacoma

Junction, Texas

Junction Middle School’s water-savvy landscape features rain gardens and a large palette of native perennials. Five rain gardens capture rainwater from the school’s roof, reducing stormwater runoff and increasing infiltration. Nearly 300 native grasses, shrubs and trees cover the landscape, which needs minimal supplemental water. Mulch covers the soil around the plants, reducing water loss from evaporation. An efficient drip irrigation system irrigates plants only during the driest months.

Photo by Scott Richardson; designed by Billy Kniffen

Peoria, Ariz.

The award-winning Desert Fusion public garden utilizes beautiful, low-water-using landscaping from deserts around the world. Key design elements include decomposed granite, decorative boulders, an efficient irrigation system, and shade structures. The garden is divided into five display areas, giving visitors several options when considering their own landscapes.

Photo courtesy of the City of Peoria

For additional water-smart landscaping ideas, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/landscaping.html. WaterSense invites you to submit a photo of your water-smart landscape; it may be featured on the WaterSense website www.epa.gov/watersense

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