My wife and I have enjoyed long walks together the past few warm seasons, both to go places without jumping in the car, and just to get some exercise and fresh air (such as it is considering the growth of Utah’s summer air quality problems). And as we’ve wandered through the neighborhoods of the city, we’ve been fascinated and delighted to see the growth of xeriscaping in the yards around us. From simple Japanese rock gardens (also known as “zen” gardens); to lush, colorful forests of drought tolerant plants; to carefully planned terraces highlighting elegantly spare clusters of flora, we’ve seen a multitude of options for individualizing yards and making them more appropriate for Utah’s desert environment than the ubiquitous, bland, water-intensive lawns (see some examples of Utah xeriscaping here*). These citizens are “making the desert blossom as a rose” while still being good stewards of the land. We hope to follow their example when we ourselves become homeowners.
Its nice to see the Salt Lake City Council catching on, changing the city landscaping ordinances to officially permit this sort of landscaping. Hopefully cities throughout the state will continue to move in this direction, permitting and even encouraging ecologically-sound landscaping in our beautiful desert.
Want to learn more about xeriscaping in Utah? Tour USU’s Botanical Center in Kaysville (still in development, but with ongoing programs) and the associated Utah House, which shows off a colorful xeriscaped yard and garden. Or visit the University of Utah’s Red Butte Garden, with classes, demonstrations, and a wide range of xeriscaping examples.
*I’m linking to this site only because it provides good photos of a sampling of the xeriscaping options possible in Utah. I am not familiar with the company Xeriscape Design, and while I agree with their philosophy, I do not know enough about the company to endorse their services.