Before & After
The word xeriscape is used frequently in the southwest landscape industry and calls to mind a vast, uniform yard full of gravel, a boulder or two and perhaps a cactus or yucca here or there. We work to educate our clients that a xeriscape can be a lush, green, ecologically balanced outdoor living space, filled with a diversity of color and texture that makes a typical lawn look ordinary and uninviting. Importantly, we do not have to compromise on water conservation to achieve this vision as our landscapes use only a fraction of the water that a traditional lawn would require. Please peruse our before and after gallery below to gain further insight into how we are working to help redefine the term “xeriscape.”
This site had the benefit of having some mature, existing trees around the perimeter of the property which gave birds a place to observe from and helped make the property feel more private. Unfortunately, the rest of the area was a wide open, high water use lawn which wasn't very useful. We applied for the rebate from the Water Utility Authority and began the process of a Xeriscape Conversion.
This is approximately 6 months after we removed the lawn and performed the xeriscape conversion. All but about 1/8th of the lawn was removed, the irrigation system was changed to low water, low maintenance drip irrigation and the client's overall water usage dropped by about 55% in the first year. She also received a large rebate on her water bill which for most residents amounts to $1.00 per square foot of turf removed.
This was a small xersicape conversion in a front yard in the NE heights. This landscape was designed by Judith Phillips and landscaped by our team at Southwest Horticulture. The first step in satisfying the Water Utility Authority Xeriscape Rebate is to remove all the high water turf you see pictured here.
AFTER - This small, simple landscape was nevertheless very effective in bringing birds, pollinators and other life into the garden. Hummingbirds love the 'Brakelights' Red Yucca and Honeybees flock to the Turpentine Bush in the fall. The client also received a 1 dollar per square foot rebate from the Water utility Authority for the Xeriscape Rebate Program.
AFTER - Some of the turf remained in order to continue to provide water to the large mulberry trees, but the sprinkler system was retrofitted to low flow rotating nozzles. Swales of cobblestone were added to create drama and topography to the area as well as catch and direct roof runoff into the landscape and prevent erosion. This is immediately after the install so the shrubs and perennials pictured here were still small, but they have grown considerably in the time since and now provide color year round.
The bricks in front and back of the property were repurposed as drystack retaining walls. This allowed for changes in the topography of the property. Native and Mediterranean plants were added that will drape over the brick wall and add color year round. Plants were carefully selected to tolerate the shade of the mulberry as well as the afternoon sun. Automatic, sub-surface irrigation was added all around the tree and groundcover plants were added in those areas to take advantage of the increased moisture.
The design set out to make the space more inviting by adding shade trees, places to sit, a travertine water feature and a flagstone walkway. The welded steel trellis added a unique decorative element at an important focal point when seated on the patio and served to break up the long block wall.
Approximately 2 years into the development of the landscape. The flagstone patio was installed with Creeping Thyme planted throughout the grout lines. Subsurface irrigation was installed underneath the patio which waters the thyme automatically. The plants along the fence line have begun to fill in and obscure the view from the street while maintaining the view of the mountains for the clients.
The concrete path was replaced with stabilized crusher fines which are sturdy enough for foot and even vehicle traffic, but provide a more natural look. The turf area is sheep fescue which requires much less water than a conventional lawn and only needs to be mown once annually. All irrigation is subsurface and therefore much more efficient for water conservation than sprinklers.
We added a great diversity of shrubs and perennials to provide year round color and interest as well as bird habitat. The Chinese Pistache tree will provide shade to the entire area as it matures, making the space more useful and inviting. The welded steel trellis will screen the entrance to the building behind it and was painted to match the trim of the house.