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Designing a Waterwise Landscape

Designing a Waterwise Landscape

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Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Traditional ideas of planting and maintaining home landscapes are constantly changing. Drought, agricultural irrigation, urban development and growing population place increasing demands on water resources. Water efficient landscaping is becoming more popular our water resources shrink and costs rise.

Many different names are given to water efficient landscapes. These include xeriscaping, low water use, drought tolerant, water wise and water thrifty. Xeriscaping has been widely promoted term the past several years. It comes from Greek origins with xeros meaning dry, combined with scape meaning view.

Drought tolerant indicates the ability of a plant to survive with limited water limited water. Although many survive with very little water, most look better if they have additional water. Drought resistant plant may become water guzzlers if water incorrectly. Waterwise is a term to describe planting and maintaining the landscape according to plant needs.

Unfortunately, many people associate water conserving landscapes with sand, gravel, cactus, skimpy plantings and a hot, sunbaked look (the "desert" image). Nothing is further from the truth. The potential beauty of these landscapes if they are well-designed is limited only by the imagination. The idea is to maintain the beauty without being thirsty.

A water wise landscape is balanced and uses water efficiently. Lawns, shrubs, flowers and trees are designed with the hardscape (everything that does not grow: decks, patios, sidewalks, fences, benches, gazebos, etc.)

One very popular concept for water wise landscapes it the idea of grouping plants according to their water requirements. This not only allows for efficient irrigation it also helps the plants grow better and have fewer problems. Although there are many ways to classify plants the following divisions will give convenient way to keep appropriately place them in the landscape.

Plan the landscape by grouping plants with similar water needs together. Zoned irrigation or hydrozoning is the most efficient way to irrigate and matches the amount of water applied to plants with similar moisture requirements. Reducing overwatering and runoff save water and money and fewer plants develop diseases from overwatering.

Hydrozoning is based on people and their interaction with the landscape. Areas of high activity create more contact and interaction with plants. This requires more supplemental irrigation to support these plantings. Areas of less activity require fewer plantings and less supplemental irrigation.

For more information on designing a landscape including flowerbeds, please log on to the Thanksgiving Point website at

ADVANCED LANDSCAPE DESIGN-This course builds upon our Basic Landscape Design course. After completing your basic design, come learn how to incorporate advanced design and labor –saving maintenance features into your landscape. The course focuses on using plants to solve problems in the landscape, as well as hardscape items such as arbors, walkways, ponds and other water features. Instructor: Larry Sagers and Paul Quist Cost:$ 40.00 Tuesday, May 6,13,20 and 27 from 2:00-4:00 PM

FLOWER BED DESIGN-Wonderful flower gardens don’t just happen. They are created by careful gardeners. Learn how to plan and plant flowerbeds that are aesthetically pleasing and that will bloom from early spring through autumn. Instructor: Larry Sagers Cost: $40.00 Thursday, May 8,15,22 and 29 from 6:00-8:00 PM Tuesday, September 9,16,23 and 30 from 2:00-4:00 PM or 6:00-8:00 PM

SELECTING PLANTS FOR UTAH LANDSCAPE- When choosing plants to include in your landscape, it is important to understand what will grow here in Utah. This class covers trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials suited for the Wasatch Front. Instructors: Paul Quist and Gretchen Campbell Cost:$30.00 (if you register for Basic Landscape Design and Selecting Plants for Utah Landscape, the cost is only $60 for both classes). Wednesday, May 7,14 and 21 from 2:00- 4:00 PM or 6:00-8:00 PM Wednesday, July 2, 9 and 16 from 10:00 AM- Noon Wednesday, August 12, 20 and 27 from 6:00-8:00 PM

BASIC LANDSCAPE DESIGN- Whether you’re designing a first-time landscape or remodeling an existing landscape. Learn the steps for creating a look that you will enjoy. The class will cover creating focal points, entryways, how to frame your house or preserve a view and waterwise landscaping. Master Gardeners from Utah State University Extension Service will help review your landscape plans in a personal consultation. Instructors: Larry Sagers and Paul Quist Cost: $40.00 (includes Designing Your Landscape booklet and CD). Saturday, May 10 and 17 from 9:00 AM- Noon Thursday, June 5,12,19 and 26 from 2:00-4:00 PM or 6:00-8:00 PM Tuesday August 5,12,19 and 26 from 2:00-4:00 PM or 6:00-8:00 PM

PASSION FOR PERENNIALS- If you love perennial garden or the cottage garden look, then you will love this class. We will go in depth into perennial plants, how to select them according to there water requirements, shade or sun needs and care. Instructors: Larry Sagers and Gretchen Campbell Cost: $40.00 ( includes a CD) Tuesday, June 3, 10, 17 and 24 from 1:00-3:00 PM

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