Water-Wise Landscaping in Utah
Water-smart Development Benefits the Environment, Developers, and Property Owners
Utah’s climate and weather are both delightful and variable. From the deserts to the south to the snowy mountain peaks of the north, we all enjoy our beautiful and colorful surroundings. Our weather, precipitation, and climate impact not only our day to day activities, but also our landscape. As the second driest state in the nation, it is important we consider water-wise landscape design in new developments to make the most of our shared water resources.
Water-wise landscaping takes advantage of the varying conditions and microclimates which exist in every landscape. It can include professional design to reduce the amount of water used in both residential and commercial applications. These designs result in using less turf grass, more planter beds, and selecting plants that are tolerant to lower amounts of watering.
Seth Vance, FOCUS Engineering Land Planner and Landscape Designer, specializes in residential and commercial developments in Utah. Seth explains how professionally designed water-wise landscaping creates attractive outdoor areas that are environmentally friendly by using less water than traditional landscapes.
Many Utahns are drawn to a lush green lawn and landscaping and often associate water-conscious landscaping with replacing lawns with rocks and cactus. “It is important to be smart about water use to conserve our limited resources while also recognizing water-wise landscaping can look amazing,” describes Seth. “It’s not about having sparsely planted cactus or replacing plants with boulders. Instead, it is about intentionally creating beautiful spaces that use much less turf grass and a variety of low water use shrubs, perennials, and fountain grasses.”
Awareness of water-wise designs has increased with Localscapes. Aimed to simplify landscaping and raise awareness about water usage, the program features patterns and practices for Utah’s unique climate. Localscapes includes a five-step, self-paced course that details how to create a beautiful landscape that can thrive in our local area with less water. The program has become a guide for several water districts and builders/developers as they look for ways to reduce environmental impacts and ultimately save water.
Implementing these water-saving techniques as a part of a project’s planting & irrigation plans can have benefits for everyone involved. Property owners benefit from the aesthetic beauty of water-wise landscaping, as well as environmental sustainability and water use cost savings. Builders and developers can also tap financial incentives and rebates for designing landscapes that use less water. While the details of qualifying for these programs can be tricky to navigate, especially as many are relatively new, clients can rely on the expertise of Focus Engineering for available programs and requirements.
“Our landscape team is unique because we collaborate closely with our in-house engineers who are experienced at grading and balancing the site, reports Seth. “While working with our engineers, we provide input regarding grading the planting areas and using run-off to benefit the plants.”
Whether you’re creating a new landscape or renovating an existing one, there are many resources available to get started. Water-wise demonstration gardens throughout the state provide inspiration for ways to conserve water in your landscape.