October 26, 2017

Maintaining an attractive and healthy lawn is not easy in our desert climate. While bermudagrass (our summer-active turf) is drought and heat tolerant, it still requires a great deal of time, resources and energy to keep it looking good. If a year-round green lawn is desired, winter ryegrass needs to be seeded each fall, creating more work and requiring more resources to maintain it properly. Convert unused grass areas to Xeriscape and reap the benefits.

Understandably, taking out unused grass areas can be a big decision for homeowners, businesses and communities. But, don’t be concerned that Xeriscape is just rocks and cacti. There are hundreds of varieties of low- water-use plants that bring color, beauty and function to the landscape. Xeriscape is common-sense landscaping incorporating principles such as good planning, use of well-adapted plants, efficient irrigation, use of water saving mulches and more.


If you’re still looking for more motivation to convert here are the …

Top Ten Reasons to Convert to Xeriscape

10. Save time – Grass will need mowing once every week or two. Fertilizing should be done monthly. Mowers, weed whackers and irrigation require maintenance. Dethatching and aerating are also needed periodically. Overseeding is very time intensive, as well as weed, disease, and pest control.

Convert to Xeriscape: Grass needs two to three times more water than a Xeriscape landscape.
Grass needs two to three times more water than a Xeriscape landscape.

9. Save water – Bermuda and ryegrass require about 60 inches of water each year, but Phoenix provides only an average of 8 inches of rainfall each year. Typically, the additional water gets applied with above ground sprinkler systems that are often inefficient, prone to vandalism and mismanaged. Getting ryegrass seed to germinate requires watering three times a day or more.

8. Save energy – A lawn has been shown to reduce home cooling requirements as much as 4 percent compared to a home with no vegetation cover. However, a Xeriscape with good tree, shrub and vine placement can cut cooling costs up to 46 percent.

7. Save money – Save on the cost of water, fertilizer, mowing, seed, and labor. Stop water damage to walls and private streets, as well as mower damage to trees or irrigation systems. You’ll get energy savings from passive cooling when plants are placed strategically around buildings.

6. Save landfill space – Grass clippings create a great deal of waste for the landfills. When ryegrass is seeded, the summer lawn is scalped creating a large amount of initial waste and mower clippings continue through winter and spring.

5. Decrease air and noise pollution – Two-cycle engines such as gas-powered mowers, blowers and weed trimmers needed for grass contribute to our air pollution problems, and the drone of lawn equipment contributes to an already noisy world.

4. Provide needed habitat for wildlife – Grass does little to help nature, but use of native plants, shrubs, and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for local wildlife.

3. Set an example – One good conversion begets another…convert to Xeriscape to demonstrate a commitment to using our natural resources wisely.

Convert to Xeriscape: Scalping bermudagrass to install winter rye causes air pollution and waste to the landfills.
Scalping bermudagrass to install winter rye causes air pollution and waste to the landfills.

2. Save frustration – Common problems include fertilizer issues, dead spots caused by diseases and constant upkeep and maintenance of irrigation, especially when vandalism or mower damage is common. Plus, the necessity of mowing during the hottest part of summer when Bermuda grows best.

And the number one reason to convert from lawn to Xeriscape…

1. No more mowing – This is your chance… how many parts of the country are there where you can totally get away with not having a lawn? Use all your saved time to enjoy time with family, watch the big game, or relax under the shade of a desert-friendly tree.

Many cities have free classes on converting unused lawn areas to colorful, low maintenance Xeriscape. Check Water – Use It Wisely’s Event Calendar for dates, times and locations.

Donna DiFrancesco is a water conservation specialist with the City of Mesa, one of 19 Water – Use It Wisely partners to offer water-saving advice and programs