Localscapes is a modern approach that takes the best of traditional landscapes, merges with more sustainable practices, and produces an end result that solves as many landscape challenges as possible.
~Cynthia Bee, Outreach Coordinator for Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District
Don't landscape the fun out of your yard!
Modern Gardener is excited to highlight the work of Localscapes®, which offers Utahns a landscaping makeover guide. We will show you the process of implementing a Localscapes from start to finish.
Localscapes is a nonprofit initiative by Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District, that seeks to use plants that are indigenous or friendly to Utah's environment and climate, in innovative and creative ways. Localscapes offers a step-by-step, customizable guide to landscaping for Utah. It is complete with free resources, as well as classes offered through Conservation Garden Park.
Whether you are a new home buyer or are retrofitting your current yard, Localscapes has practical guides and designs that will work for you, and thrive in Utah.
Modern Gardener followed along with Solscapes, a local landscape company, as they implemented a Localscapes inspired design for a Sugarhouse homeowner. The front yard flip began by removing the sod, extending the front porch, and installing retaining walls that also stand as planter boxes.
The lower retaining wall holds soil and water-wise plants, while the upper retaining wall features a stone pathway that encloses the expanded deck with a fire pit and seating area. A drip irrigation system was incorporated and additional trees and shrubs were planted to shade the yard and help keep temperatures down. This yard redo has given the homeowner more space to enjoy the outdoors and has cut down the amount of yard work!
A common issue with new home builders and owners is the yard becomes an afterthought. New homeowners often spend most of their resources on the interiors and there’s little expendable income left for the yard. Therefore, in the short term, laying sod down becomes a quick and cheap answer.
Although this seems prudent, the truth is that a yard better designed for Utah’s climate with less high-maintenance, water-guzzling grass saves you time and money. Beginning with such a design also saves you from having to redesign your yard and rip out your sod later down the road. With less lawn maintenance, a simpler drip irrigation system that deters weeds, and a lower water bill, you will have more time to enjoy your yard and not break the bank.
For Homeowners retrofitting an old yard
Localscapes recommends beginning your redesign by looking at your sprinkler system. This may mean retrofitting your sprinklers or installing drip irrigation. For many homeowners, this can seem daunting. Localscapes keeps it simple, and it’s not as difficult as you think!
If you aren’t ready to makeover your entire yard, fear not! Localscapes offers redesign plans in stages. You can start with your park strip or side yard. This is a great way to practice implementing Localscapes principles. You can find free park strip plans on their website!
Localscapes also offers many classes and workshops to help you get started. Localscapes 101 is a general info class that is for more experienced gardeners and landscapers, and Localscapes University is a three-hour course for those needing more help making the change. Workshops on design and irrigation remove the intimidation factor and help you create plans that you can replicate at your own home. You can also find resources for contractors and one-on-one guidance. Follow Localscapes on Facebook to see when classes are happening!