Dig in

This article originally appeared in University of Utah Magazine.

The term water-wise landscaping often evokes images of spartan yards with gray boulders and unhospitable views. But strolling through the Red Butte Water Conservation Garden on the U’s campus, the lush foliage, verdant bushes and blooming flowers challenge that assumption. “Planting for our climate doesn’t mean we have to make our yards a depressing landscape of rocks,” says Derrek Hanson B.S. ’99 MPA ’07, Red Butte Garden’s new executive director. “Whatever type of plant you like, there are water-wise alternatives.”

As Utah enters another summer likely to be plagued by drought, there are opportunities to make a difference by changing how we view our water resources and how we use them wisely to create beautiful, locally adapted landscapes, says Guy Banner, a horticulturist at Red Butte Garden and a water-wise gardening expert. Approximately 65% of Utah’s annual culinary water consumption is applied to landscapes, according to Utah State University’s Center for Water Efficient Landscaping. Much of Utah, and the West, is high-elevation desert—and that’s not going to change. “Our population is growing, and our water supply is not,” Hanson says. “We owe it to our community to figure out a way to balance the lack of water with our landscapes.”

And while thousands of people wander the paths of Red Butte Garden each year, we want to bring some of their gardens—and water-wise wisdom—to you. Here are just a few techniques, plants and classes to help you get started putting in roots for a more sustainable future.

To read about water-wise plants and gardening methods, read the full article here.