This story is part of our Be Water Wise series. Each week we will be educating Utahns on water usage and conservation. Special thanks to The Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District and Cynthia Bee for helping coordinate information.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Millions of tourists every year flock to Utah to see the picturesque National Parks. If you were to ask them to describe what Utah looks like, you would get answers ranging from beautiful snow-capped mountains to soaring red rock vistas.
For many homeowners in Utah, though, their yards tend to look surprisingly un-Utah-ish.
Most homeowners seek advice from social media trends or plans that come from experts in other climates, that when implemented here just don’t work well. There is good news for those homeowners who have been avoiding any kind of landscaping, thinking they have to rip out their plush green lawns (earned through countless hours of watering) and fill their spaces full of rocks and cactuses. There is an uptick of social media influencers dedicated to landscaping the right way in Utah and The Jordan Valley Conservancy District is offering its expertise through the Localscapes program.
During the seven years Localscapes has been around, Utah families have taken part in expert advice and incentive programs to great success. Here are three case studies.
Localscapes #1 – Brian & Nanette – Installed in 2017
Brian and Nanette completed one of the first Localscapes projects. They didn’t have to tear out their whole front yard to Localscape, they simply reduced the total lawn area and carved it into the “Central Open Shape” that is at the heart of the method. They initially were nervous — as were some of their neighbors — but now that the changes have been in place for a few years they report positive outcomes.
“Over the years we’ve been really impressed with how much less work is required in our yard as compared to the original landscape. Each season it’s only become more beautiful and many of our neighbors have since created Localscapes-style projects of their own. It’s been a big hit!” – Nannette
Localscapes #2 – Chad & Becky – Installed in 2019
Chad and Becky chose a “lawnless” Localscape. Typically Localscapes are about finding a better balance to landscaping by reducing the total lawn area, but the Central Open Shape need not be lawn.
“Many of our Localscapers opt to forgo lawn entirely, especially in a front yard or on smaller lots, but they’ll still use the organizing power of a Central Open Shape to ensure the landscape retains a planned, designed look over time rather than devolving into a cluttered, weedy appearance,” said JVWCD’s Cynthia Bee.
Chad and Becky used a product called “chat” to serve as their Central open Shape. It’s a compactable gravel that makes a perfect base for plants and for gathering areas. Chad designed and installed the area on his own and has praised the lower maintenance of their yard.
Localscapes #3 – Clifton & Susan – Installed 2018 – 2021
Clifton and Susan worked with one of the preferred methods of Localscaping. They broke their project into small manageable projects and didn’t try to overhaul everything all at once. Methods and classes are designed to accommodate this method and the challenges that come into play as homeowners begin their projects.
“We liked that the Localscapes method made it easy to break down our yard into a series of small projects we could install over time. We started with a park strip flip in 2018, next was our side yard, and then a few different projects in the backyard which took a few seasons to complete.” – Clifton
The JVWCD wants to remind homeowners that nearly 60% of Utahns live in areas that qualify for Water Savers landscape incentives, including Localscapes.
“It’s really just the best way to landscape in Utah,” said Bee. “Localscapes not only make the landscape more attractive and usable, they also protect your landscape investment from the insecurities of our ever more variable climate.”
It’s important to start planning Localscapes projects early and even though the landscape season is over for this year it’s a great time to start looking at getting on the schedule of local landscape designers and professionals if you plan on using them. Also, making plans to sign up for incentive programs. Most programs give participants a year to complete but there are also waiting lists to get approved.
“A big mistake homeowners make is waiting until spring to think about their projects,” Bee warns potential Localscapers, “by that point, the best designers and contractors are long-booked for other clients, and the queue for the Utah Water Savers landscape incentive program participation approval can be weeks long. All of this can cause frustration and project delays.”