conserving with xeriscaping ....
Taking Challenges and Turning them into Opportunities.
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According to the Xeriscaping Council of New Mexico, "A surprising amount of water is used in the home landscape. Studies have shown that as much as 70 percent of water from a municipal water system can be attributed to residential use... Of water used at homes, almost half is used to maintain the landscape."
It stands to reason that if water used for landscaping can be conserved, we have the potential of huge water savings.
It should be emphasized that even though the word"xeriscape" comes from the Greek word "xeros" that means "dry", xeriscaping is not "ZEROscaping" and can include many garden types. Although we did much of the work ourselves on our xeriscape conversion, we started with a professionally drawn plan that included plants chosen for our climate. We were thrilled to see our water use go down AND eliminated much of the mowing that was necessary with our old lawn. For water use and conservation tips from NM, click here.
Okay, this a something you need to check into. Michael Martin Melendrez of Soil Secrets in Los Lunas has non-petroleum based products that will not only enhance your soil with beneficial microbes and allow you to grow grass instead of rocks, but will help you save water with drought friendly composition and humus that grabs carbon from the air. What, you only need to water every 3 weeks instead of every week and you are helping with global warming and sustainability at the same time? Try it. For a very interesting discussion of how grass can sequester CO2 and enhance our soil, read Michael's latest paper on the subject.
Using native trees will use less water and improve your chances of success.
At the time of the Spanish conquest, New Mexico was a land of giant oaks, therefore the name Albuquerque - a place of oaks. Albuquerque is a White Oak, thus the word Alba for white and Querque for the genus of oaks - Quercus (Latin botanical nomenclature).
Today still the desert edge of our New Mexico and West Texas mountains contain a rich species diversity of the genus of oaks, unmatched anywhere in the United States. Of the 57 species of Oak found native to the United States, 30 are native to the Chihuahuan Desert Region of the Southwest.
Trees planted on the east and west exposures of buildings can lower temperatures up to 10 degrees indoors. Street trees can lower ambient temperatures for cities, while making pedestrian passage easier, requiring less heat-generating parking lots." Green rooftops can also significantly reduce indoor temperatures while potentially mitigating the urban heat island effect, as Chicago has tried to do with 2.5-million square feet of rooftop gardens. "
Soilutions, Inc. not only sells rich organic soil for your garden, but provides water harvesting advice and permaculture/garden design. Just Sprinklers Store promotes water savings systems with drip irrigation and sprinklers. They are the only store in town selling Reveille Sod, the grass that only needs to be watered 2x a week in middle of the summer. And 1x a week in spring and fall. Ask them about their rain water harvesting system from Aquascapes, Inc .
The city of Albuquerque gives a healthy rebate for xeriscaping conversions. The rebate amount has increased to $1.20 per square foot. The minimum remains at 500 square feet, and the maximum is 2000 square feet for eligible landscape conversions. However, it is necessary to follow their guidelines carefully and apply for the rebate before the project is started. (We made the mistake of xeriscaping first and looking at the rebate program afterwards....bummer). Any of the landscape professionals in the Xeriscaping Council will be able to help you with program compliance. To qualify for the rebate, you must:
- Develop a Plan.
Print the Xeriscaping Rebate Application Form (.pdf), Use the approved plant lists to select plants. Draw a simple diagram on the form. List each plant to be used on the form. Use the numbered lines from your list to identify the plants on your landscape drawing.
- P.S. This beautiful plan for our front yard (photo) was created by Tim Puzak of Puzak Landscape (286-9314).
- Call the city at 768-3655
to have a City Inspector visit you at the property to review your application and to see the existing landscape. When your application has been approved, you may begin your project. Funding will be reserved for the anticipated amount of your rebate.
- Proceed with your project.
You have six months after your application is approved to complete your project. You may apply for a project extension if rebate funds are still available.
- Call 768-3655
to arrange for a final inspection. Following final approval, the City will apply the rebate credit to your City water bill.
The Xeriscaping Council web site has beautiful photos and helpful information. TheXeric Garden Club of Albuquerque meets the third Saturday of each month from 9am-12 noon. Take a look at some of the beautiful landscapes designed by Waterwise.
Note: It has been reported recently that lawnmowers generate as much CO2 in a 30 min. period as a car does on a 150 mile trip, so you get a bonus savings of emissions along with the water!! (If you are in the market for a new lawnmower, think about electric or better yet...HUMAN powered.) Also...don't forget that leaf blower (might want to think about a rake.)
1 hour leaf blower =
15,400 miles of driving at 30 mph average speed (hydrocarbon emissions)
880 miles of driving (carbon monoxide)
2.6 pounds of PM10 dust emissions
Xeriscaping Council of New Mexico...
The Xeriscaping Council is education and project oriented. The group's main interest is to educate New Mexicans and others about water conservation and to promote the idea of using native, low-water plants and landscaping/irrigation methods in New Mexico as a means of water conservation.
The NMASLA is a statewide professional organization open to landscape architects and their associates, including students in the newly accredited graduate landscape architecture program at the University of New Mexico.
In a world where precious natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate, and cultural conflicts are increasingly common, landscape architects can substantially contribute to the realization of a vision where natural and built environments can coexist in sustainable balance, and where all peoples can celebrate their diverse heritage and fulfill their individual desire to grow and thrive.
Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District ...
The Rio Grande has been the source of life-giving water for civilizations in New Mexico for as long as people have lived here. The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District maintains the intricate systems of ditches and canals and levees that prevent the Rio Grande from overflowing its banks while also allowing for irrigation, agriculture, recreation, and environmental sustainability.