Busting Myths About WaterWise Landscapes
by MIKE LORENC, Conservation Garden Park
MYTH #1: Only Rocks and Cactus
This is easily the biggest misconception. Visitors here at the Conservation Garden Park often ask where the waterwise demonstrations are—without realizing the entire six-acre garden is waterwise. Most of the Garden uses perennial flowers, ornamental grasses, bulbs, attractive shrubs, living ground covers, and mulch to create a beautiful landscape that uses much less water than an average Utah yard. How much less? The average water use for a residential landscape here in Utah is about 50 inches. To get an idea of how much water that is, build a wall around your property 50 inches high, and then fill it with water. Most Utah yards could get away with half that amount, which is how much our lush waterwise demonstration gardens use— often times more than half.
MYTH #2: No Lawn
Although the lawn uses more water than any other plant in your yard, it can still be part of a wonderful waterwise landscape. We encourage everyone to decide for themselves how much lawn they really need. If you have a lawn you rarely seem to walk on except when mowing it, it’s probably a good time to think about replacing that lawn with lower water use plants.
MYTH #3: Only Native Plants
Native plants are fantastic because they are already used to our water and soil conditions. However, not all natives thrive in the valley (example: Quaking Aspen do better in their native mountain habitat). While you will find hundreds of native plants here in the Garden, a large portion of them are from other parts of the world with climates that are as dry as ours. A lot of plants will also do just fine on less water than most people are currently giving them.
MYTH #4: No Maintenance
Waterwise landscaping is designed to look somewhat natural, but it still requires some maintenance. This type of maintenance is different than what is required by a traditional lawn-heavy yard. Instead of mowing and edging, more weeding and pruning are needed. Once established though, mature water-wise landscapes actually require less work.