6 steps for a drab-to-fab backyard rehab

Posted at 1:15 PM, May 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-02 16:15:22-04

Convert a thirsty yard into a water-wise escape

Whether you’re landscaping a yard for the first time from the soil up or planning to overhaul an existing one, landscape projects can be exciting but also daunting.

Add to that our challenging Sonoran Desert climate and years of drought, and all-of-a-sudden, planning a landscape makeover poses a whole new set of challenges — and it all funnels down to… water. 

But why should we care about water-usage when designing our landscapes?

1. Help your yard drink responsibly

Did you know that over half of household water goes into our landscapes? Converting a water-thirsty landscape of grass and high-water-use plants into an attractive low-water-use landscape, or Xeriscape, is one of the best and easiest ways to save water, save money on your water bill and create a landscape that is much easier to maintain. Xeriscape (zeer-ah-scape) is a term that defines a creative approach to landscaping that includes the use of seven principles to ensure that landscapes are water efficient, yet creative and colorful. Not sure how to identify if your yard has a problem with overconsumption or how to curb its water habit? Follow these tips and ideas from Water – Use It Wisely and “help your landscape drink responsibly!”

2. A great yard starts with a great plan

Whether you need to freshen up your landscape with a few new plants, you’re ready to remove grass to install a Xeriscape, or maybe your yard needs a total makeover, making a plan is the first important step. As you gather ideas for your design, visit one of many Phoenix Valley Xeriscape Demonstration Gardens for ideas and inspiration.  



3. Choosing plants that thrive

Start with Arizona-friendly plants that are right at home in our climate. Use the plant selection guide on to select the perfect plants to thrive in our area. Turn to Pinterest for inspiration and check out Water – Use It Wisely’s board dedicated just to“Low Water-Use Plants”. Sign up for their monthly e-newsletter packed full of water-saving tips and a Plant of the Month series.

4. Proper irrigation to keep your landscape from soaking you

Setting up or reconfiguring your irrigation properly will ensure that you’re watering properly (up to 70 percent of water use is outdoors) while keeping your landscape healthy and beautiful. An irrigation supply specialist such as Ewing Irrigation can help you find the ideal solutions for your unique irrigation needs. Landscape Watering by the Numbers: A Guide for the Arizona Desert (online version) is a great resource full of locally relevant information.

5. Installation: DIY or not  — and how to select a landscape pro

Decide whether you are going to tackle this on your own or hire a landscape pro. Many landscape professionals will even provide you with life-like renderings to help you envision your ideal, water-wise outdoor escape.

· Love a do-it-yourself challenge? Check out resources on Water – Use It Wisely including Xeriscape: Landscaping with Style for the AZ Desert booklet and online resources.

· Rather leave it to a pro? Or maybe you’d rather sit back, relax and let a team of experts transform your tired yard from dull-and-drab to fabulous. Learn more about hiring an ALCA certified professional.

6. Enter to win a fabulous landscape makeover

We’re here to help! Everything needs updating every so often and landscapes are no exception. One randomly selected winner will receive a backyard rehab prize valued at $8,000, brought to you by Water – Use It Wisely, ABC15 Arizona, Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association, the Plant Something Campaign and Ewing Irrigation. ENTER NOW!

Contest dates: April 18 through May 16, 2016. 

Winner will be selected the week of May 23rd.


About Water-Use It Wisely

The Water - Use It Wisely campaign was launched in 1999 to promote an ongoing water conservation ethic among Arizona's rapidly growing population. Partners include the cities of Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Peoria, Chandler, Glendale, Avondale, Surprise, Queen Creek, and Fountain Hills. Additional partners include the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, Global Water Resources, EPCOR Water, and Salt River Project.