WEST JORDAN — As the drought intensifies, many Utahns are looking for ways to save water on their yards, but don't know where to start.
Fortunately, there are now great how-to resources available, and you don't have to leave home to get started. You also don't have to sacrifice beauty to save water in your yard.
"I get to help people make things look beautiful, and fit the climate that we actually live in," said Cynthia Bee, outreach coordinator at Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.
She teaches classes on localscaping: designing or reworking a yard to fit the property and the climate.
"People don't waste water because they want to," she said. "They don't have yards that are just nothing but lawn because 'I've got to have a lawn,' it's because they're not sure what else to do there."
Bee shared some of the principles on display in the demonstration gardens at Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.
The district started planting examples of what Utah yards could look like with less water about 20 years ago. It's been an ever-expanding resource for anyone who wants to go to the district offices in West Jordan from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
In the localscapes area, there are endless ideas for Utah yards that look amazing and cut water use 60% to 80%.
Bee and others teach classes online on transforming Utah yards to save water at localscapes.com, a statewide partnership. They recommend starting on your park strip, or your side yard.
"Lawn in a park strip will use more water than anywhere else you're using lawn on your property. So, it's an obvious place we could start," said Bee.
A strip with waterwise flowers on a drip system instead of turf on irrigation saves 6,000 to 10,000 gallons of water every summer.
"It's just an area that is not useful for recreation," she said. "It's not that we don't want people to have any lawn. We just want to put lawn in the places where it functions as a recreation surface, rather than a default ground cover because he didn't know what else to do there."
Waterwise localscapes don't have to be a sacrifice or a downgrade, she said. Done well, they're an upgrade.
"There is middle ground," the outreach coordinator said. "It's not the extremes. It's not all lawn, or all rock. There's a whole lot of beautiful landscaping in between those extremes and that's where we want people to fall."
Localscapes.com shares a five-step process for localscapes that will save water and look better.
Utah Watersavers will let you know what kind of rebates your community offers for those kinds of projects.