May 10, 2017

Thinking about converting your landscape from high water use to Xeriscape, but don’t know where to begin? Maybe you like to get down in the dirt and do-it-yourself (DIY), or you’re interested in hiring a pro; making the switch to a beautifully designed Xeriscape landscape can be very rewarding. Finding the right resources to help you design, install, and then maintain and protect your landscape is the key to ensuring your rewarding experience is well protected.

If you like challenges and love DIY, there are many resources that can assist you in using best practices for designing and installing a Xeriscape landscape. Water – Use It Wisely, sponsored by 18 Arizona water partners, offers many online resources including the Xeriscape: Landscaping with Style in the Arizona Desert booklet and online portal. It outlines the 7 Principles of Xeriscape, and walks you step-by-step through the design, installation, and maintenance, as well as provides a large selection of images.

Leave It to the Pros

Rather have an expert do the work for you? Water – Use It Wisely has tips for choosing the right contractor service for any landscape job! Before hiring a landscape contractor, there are four important things to remember:

#1 Select an ALCA-certified Contractor

The Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association (ALCA) is the only professional organization for landscaping
contractors in Arizona and has a complete list of their members. When you pick an ALCA member, you are selecting a landscape professional that belongs to an association that provides specialized training. These professionals utilize proper installation methods and best maintenance practices for their customers. Their commitment to ALCA
demonstrates their willingness to stay updated on the latest trends techniques and designs, all within the ever-changing industry. Check if your landscape contractor is an ALCA member by contacting the ALCA office at (602) 626-7091 or by visiting their website.

#2 Look for ACPL Designation

The Arizona Certified Landscape Professional (ACLP) designation ensures certified professional contractors have undergone a series of 10 hands-on workshops and have passed extensive examination. This certification provides them with a greater understanding of landscaping and increases knowledge and skills.

#3 Protect Your Investment

As you are doing the design and install of your landscape oasis, it is also important to keep in mind the proper maintenance required to protect your landscape. ALCA has created the Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM) program, allowing landscape professionals the ability to have knowledge and skills to employ practices which aim to preserve limited, valuable natural resources, such as water, reduce waste generation, and promote the maturity of plant material. This allows the landscape professionals to foster a healthier and more efficient landscape.

#4 Do Your Homework

Make sure your contractor is up to date with the following:

  • Insurance – Ask for proof of insurance. The property owner could be held responsible for damages or injuries that occur on site. A reputable landscape contractor will carry insurance and worker’s compensation insurance coverage.
  • Licenses – The Arizona Registrar of Contractors may require a license before work can commence. They also have a listing of up-to-date and valid licenses.
  • Permits – Many municipalities may require permits for electrical, mechanical, and/or plumbing work. Check with your city to see what types of permits may be required.
  • References – You’re putting your hard-earned money into your landscape and it will be a long-lasting investment; don’t hesitate to request a list of other jobs your contractor has recently completed.

Individuals who go door to door and offer bargains for performing work may cost you in the end. Improper or lack of training may damage or ruin your landscape and can cost you extra time and money to correct, or even replace it. Would you be willing to take that risk?

Christian Delgado is a water resource specialist with the city of Phoenix, one of 18 Water – Use It Wisely partners to offer water-saving advice and programs

Featured photo (top right) by Russ Hendricks