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‘Localscapes’ can help your lawn be water-wise

An example of localscaping at the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. Photo: Mary Richards

WEST JORDAN, Utah — In this year of statewide drought, much has been said about turf buyback programs, ‘rip the strip,’ or getting ride of lawn and yards — but what about localscapes?

Recently, the governor outlined new strategies and plans to help the drought in a news conference from the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.

There on the property is an example of a localscape. Outreach coordinator Cynthia Bee says localscapes show how to make a lawn functional and water-wise at the same time.

Localscapes vs. xeriscapes

She says their focus groups showed some confusion over the definition of xeriscaping, and even water-wise lawns. Some people believe xeriscaping must include all rocks, or all wood chips, or that it turns into a big weed patch. People didn’t like something that looked messy.

Bee said the better term and better solution is ‘localscapes,’ because it takes what works for your specific area and your specific needs. The general concept revolves around usable open space in the middle, then planting beds around the edges.

And it does not have to be “all or nothing” thinking.

As little or as much green space as you want

“Some people want no lawn, so they can use gravel or pavers in that open shape. But we don’t want to shame people who still want some lawn, but don’t need it in their park strip or side yard or that back corner they only go to while mowing.”

She says there can be timed sprinklers on the area of lawn, then drip irrigation in the bushes and trees in the planting beds to prevent overwatering.

“Using water as a tool allows us to use water to control growth in our landscapes as well,” she said.

And she knows that greenery and trees are important for cities and neighborhoods for their cooling effects and beauty.

Bee says neighbors are not likely to copy an example if they don’t like how it looks. People also avoid doing something that takes too much maintenance.

Therefore, you can try a localscapes class through the USU Extension classes, or by going to the website to find the right steps for your soil and climate and water type. Contractors and landscape architects can also help, for those who want to go that route.

“That’s why we called it localscapes. The best advice for what you need to do is closer to you,” she said.

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