Xeriscaping Saves Water - But Does It Save Money?

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Wade, Gary L.
Weatherly, E. Neal
Hatcher, Kathryn J.
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Xeriscaping, pronounced "Zera-scaping", is a term coined in Colorado in 1981 to define the process of making a landscape more water-efficient, not only in the design phase, but also through proper installation and water-wise management practices that conserve water. The concept involves seven principles which are collectively called xeriscaping: 1. Proper planning and design; 2. Practical turf areas; 3. Efficient irrigation; 4. Soil improvements; S. Mulching; 6. Appropriate plant selection; and 7. Maintenance to reduce water needs (Wade et al., 1988). All are equally important in improving overall landscape water-use efficiency and water conservation. The merits of the xeriscaping principles in water conservation are reiterated again and again in numerous publications and books on the subject, leaving the reader with little doubt that xeriscaping will save water. However, in addition to the well-documented environmental and aesthetic benefits of xeriscaping, consumers often ask about the economic benefits of xeriscaping. Does xeriscaping save enough money to warrant a substantial capital outlay to retrofit an existing landscape? If consumers can be shown economic benefits from xeriscaping, they will be more likely to implement changes in their present landscape. In this study, a landscape retrofit model and computer cost estimator program were utilized to project costs and potential economic return on investment from xeriscaping.
Sponsored by U.S. Geological Survey, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, and Georgia Institute of Technology.
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