WEST JORDAN, Utah — Utah is facing a historic drought, resulting in restrictions and Utahns searching for ways to conserve water.
More than five years ago, a team of Utah horticulturists, landscape professionals and water industry experts came together to create Localscapes. The program is designed especially for Utahns to promote water-efficient landscaping.
“It is really a change in the way you are thinking about your landscape and trying to make it the most functional and water efficient as possible,” said Megan Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District.
When Aly Escobar and her husband bought a new home in Herriman, they decided to take a Localsacpes class before landscaping.
“I thought since we have this big yard, why not save water,” she said.
The program focuses on five techniques: a central open space, gathering areas, activity zones, paths and planting beds.
Localscapes offers both in-person and virtual classes, as well as free designs and resources. People who use a Localscapes design use 2/3 less water than people with a traditional Utah landscape, Jenkins said.
“By being smart about the design, you can actually create areas of little to no maintenance. You can create your lawn area in a way that can be watered efficiently,” she said.
Each day, more than 9 billion gallons of water are used for residential outdoor use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). About half of that water ends up being wasted, partially because of irrigation system flaws, the EPA reports.
Since using the Localscape design, Escobar said she has not only saved money on her monthly water bill but has also been able to benefit from rebates.
“It makes us feel great that we are saying water, especially during this time when water is so precious,” she said.
Right now, people should focus on planning and getting educated, Jenkins said. She also urged that landscaping should be done in the fall. The popularity of Localscapes' water saving approach has greatly increased because of the drought conditions, she said.
However, the biggest limitation remains of people not understanding that this is not a desert style of landscaping with only rock and cactus. Those involved want to encourage more people to get onboard with this type of water conservation approach.
“It is really important for people to consider how their landscapes interact with the environment,” Jenkins said.
There are some rebates possible for people who take the classes and create a water-efficient yard in certain parts of the state. Localscapes is not a business, therefore the programs and education are offered for free. There are several businesses that partner with Localscapes. For more information, click here.