Utility inspires with low-water landscaping - Your West Valley News: Topstory

Utility inspires with low-water landscaping

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Posted: Sunday, December 18, 2011 7:45 pm

Northwest Valley residents looking for new ways to spruce up their yard in an environmentally friendly manner may want to visit Arizona American Water Co.’s xeriscape garden.

Through a federal grant, Arizona American switched its outdoor landscaping from rocks and an abundance of water-dependent olive and pine trees to a more sustainable venture.

The xeriscape garden will use about 120,000 gallons annually for irrigation compared to a turf lot of similar same size that would use roughly 600,000 gallons, said Sally Ceccarelli-Wolf, water resource analyst for Arizona American. It’s estimated that 70 percent of all water bill costs derive from outdoor irrigation.

Arizona American officials conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and unveiled a new xeriscape garden last week at their Sun City office, 15626 N. Del Webb Blvd.

The garden showcases what options residents have regarding new landscaping features and how they can save money on utility bills in the process.

Xeriscape gardening is a landscaping technique that uses drought-resistant plants and shrubs to minimize irrigation, Ceccarelli-Wolf said.

“We are always eager to educate our customers in ways to conserve water,” said Paul Townsley, Arizona American president. “When it comes to trying to achieve beautiful landscaping in the desert, a xeriscape garden is a wonderful example for our costumers of how to save water without compromising beauty.”

Ceccarelli-Wolf said the 1,700-square-foot garden, which features a number of non-native Arizona plants, is one of two similar ventures the company opened this month to promote sustainability. The other is in Paradise Valley.

Construction of the two xeriscape gardens was made possible by Arizona American’s water resource team and a $30,000 cost-share grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The retrofit in Sun City took about a month to complete.

Jim Cliffords recently bought a home in Sun City and is looking for landscaping ideas as his backyard is currently a “blank slate.” Cliffords knows there’s much to do, but said he doesn’t want to overrun the space with trees and other features that wouldn’t promote conservation.

“All of these features are impressive, particularly their lack of dependence on water,” he said while strolling the xeriscape garden with his wife. “I find it very attractive. You don’t want to pour water on something just to make it look pretty.”

The xeriscape garden was also made possible by Master Gardeners, Moon Valley Nursery, Rainbird Irrigation, Native Resources International and Mountain States Wholesale Nursery.

Zach Colick can be reached at 623-876-2522 or zcolick@yourwestvalley.com.

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