Water Conservation Garden at Red Butte Garden

by Kate Randall

Red Butte Garden is currently involved in a capital campaign to fund the creation of a three-acre Water Conservation Garden that will test and display best-practices of water-wise landscapes, dispel myths about water-wise gardens and provide more education about water-conservation to the public. We need your support now.

Utah may have “the greatest snow on earth,” but we receive an average of only 13 inches of precipitation per year, making Utah the second driest state in the nation next to Nevada. Utah also consumes more water per capita than any other state in the country. Because of our arid climate, Utahns water their landscapes more extensively than needed to keep them lush and green. These landscapes, often composed of non-native plants from wetter regions, consume over half of Utah’s municipal water supply and equates to an estimated two-thirds of a typical homeowner’s use (source: http://www.water.utah.gov/M&I/plan7-14-03.pdf). In other words, Utah residents and business owners use way too much precious water on their Kentucky Blue Grass lawns.

As Utah’s population continues to grow, the current overuse of water is not sustainable. Agricultural, industrial and residential users are all competing for the same limited resource. Utah’s future environmental health and economic expansion will be influenced by how we use and conserve water.

Red Butte Garden is the largest botanical garden that tests, displays and interprets regional horticulture within a 400-mile radius. As a beacon for how to use water more wisely for landscaping purposes, the Water Conservation Garden will help to guide the community to make more water-wise and sustainable landscaping choices.

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Map of the planned Water Conservation Garden

When completed, the Water Conservation Garden will bring an end to the myth that a water-wise garden can only exist in a xeriscape of rocks and cacti. The new garden will consist of series of different “rooms” or areas, each showcasing how non-invasive exotic and native plants with differing soil and water needs can grow into beautifully layered and vibrant landscapes without overusing water.

Some of the challenges Red Butte Garden faces in the development of a Water Conservation Garden are similar to what Utah residents face in their own yards. Most of the Garden’s current soils tend to be heavy clay content, and many water-wise plants don’t do well if their roots stay wet, so well-draining soils will be critical to the success of the new garden. Red Butte Garden also faces the same challenge with a limited water supply as any other landscape across the valley. We will have to put practices in place to conserve water and maintain our different gardens to the best of our ability.

The addition of the Water Conservation Garden will have a positive impact on the type and number of public outreach offered at Red Butte Garden including new educational programs, guest lectures, courses and tours to educate people how they can redesign their residential landscapes and use water more efficiently. The more ways and places Utah residents can turn to and become more educated about this very serious issue of unsustainable water consumption, the better.

As stated earlier, Utahns simply water their lawns too much. One way to immediately reduce residential landscape water consumption is by determining the application rate of sprinkler systems and then regulating how long the sprinklers are on during different times of the year. There are many other water-saving tips currently posted on the Utah Division of Water Resources website.

Red Butte Garden is currently involved in a capital campaign to fund the creation of a three-acre Water Conservation Garden. We will receive $5,000,000 in matching challenge grants to bring the planned Water Conservation Garden to reality if we can raise an additional $1,000,000 by February 1, 2013.

We are very close to our campaign deadline and we need your support now! Every dollar donated brings five matching dollars to the Garden!

For more information about the Water Conservation Garden at Red Butte Garden or to donate, please call Gregory Lee at (801) 585-3878, Katherine Atwood at (801) 585-5658, or check our website for details.

Kate Randall is the Marketing Assistant at Red Butte Garden. Contact her at: kate.randall@redbutte.utah.edu.

Red Butte Garden is Utah’s botanical garden and arboretum. Our mission is to cultivate the human connection with the beauty of living landscapes. Through our mission we strive to create a community that understands, values, protects and is enriched by the world of plants.

One response to “Water Conservation Garden at Red Butte Garden

  1. Pingback: Water Conservation Garden at Red Butte Garden « sustainableUTAH | Gardens and School | Scoop.it·

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