The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension (reg)

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  This Issue:
    2003 Highlights &
          2004 Changes
    Calendar of Events
    Things to Expect & Do
    An Agave Stalk
          Becomes A Nursery
    Pruning My Red Bird
          of Paradise
    Computer Corner
    Coping with those
          Irritating Weeds
    Who Am I?
    Experiencing the
          Wonders of
    Going Bananas in the
    Banana Recipes
    Small Trees for the
          Arizona Desert
    Spotting Nutrient
          in Citrus Leaves
    Word Wise
    Landscape Water Use
         Results are In
    Desert Willow
          Indigenous Imposter
    Book Review
    Master Gardener
          Journal Index
          of 2003

Two Citrus Clinics

Master Gardener Journal  

E A R T H - F R I E N D L Y   G A R D E N I N G

Landscape Water Use Results are In

by Cathy Rymer,
Water Conservation Specialist, Town of Gilbert

A survey of the landscape practices and preferences of 1800 homeowners by researchers at Arizona State University has some very interesting results.

More homeowners preferred an oasis-type landscape design combining desert-adapted plants and a small turf area for recreation. However, it seems homeowners with programmable irrigation systems do not adjust their water applications to seasonal changes as recommended by horticulturists and water conservation offices.

Also studied was the effect of frequent pruning on a plant's water intake. Results showed that frequent pruning had the effect of increasing a plant's need for water because of the increased production of new leaves to replace those lost. Plants given low irrigation volume and pruned only yearly had the highest water use efficiency.

Plant appearance preferences were evaluated, and survey respondents preferred shrubs with a more natural shape to those formally hedged.

When two yards containing typical desert-adapted plants were compared, the results were surprising. Although the front yards were similar in size and plant material, and contained no turf, the watering practices were dramatically different. One household applied 218,000 more gallons of water per year than the other - a difference of nearly 700 percent. However, "no measurable or visible differences in plant appearance or fitness" could be documented!

What does all this mean? Many homeowners apply more water to their landscapes than the plants really need. Most could safely adjust their irrigation practices and apply water less often without affecting plant appearance or health. Follow the chart below for recommended irrigation schedules. Remember: "Plants Don't Save Water, People Do"

Maricopa County Master Gardener Volunteer Information
Last Updated January 23, 2004
Author: Lucy K. Bradley, Extension Agent Urban Horticulture, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, Maricopa County
© 1997 The University of Arizona, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cooperative Extension in Maricopa County
Comments to 4341 E. Broadway Road, Phoenix, AZ 85040,
Voice: (602) 470-8086 ext. 301, Fax (602) 470-8092