Making your yard less thirsty |

Making your yard less thirsty

Special to the Daily/Pedro Campos/VAg Inc.Xeriscaping uses drought resistant plants and ground coverings like mulch to reduce water use. Traer Creek in Avon used creeping Oregon grape and mulch in a roundabout of near Wal-Mart.

VAIL ” A green, lush lawn looks nice, but Tom Johnson knows it can be thirsty.

Lawns at the Eagle County Building need a lot of water, not to mention upkeep from carbon-emitting mowers.

That’s why Johnson, public works director for the county, and other county workers are putting together a plan to cut water use in half by “xeriscaping” the grounds of the county building in Eagle.

Xeriscaping uses grasses, flowers and other plants ” plus rocks and mulch “that need less water and are more resistant to drought. The county’s goal is to use half as much water for the county building’s landscaping. The idea has been considered for a while, Johnson said.

“It’s just something that’s finally come to its time,” he said.

Pedro Campos, a local landscape engineer, said xeriscaping is becoming more and more popular in Eagle County, especially since the 2002 drought.

“It’s pretty much a growing trend across the United States,” said Campos, who works for VAg Inc. in Avon and is helping the county come up with its xeriscaping plan.

A big factor is cost, Campos said.

County officials expect to recoup the cost of the project within six or seven years, Johnson said.

“You recoup a lot of costs because you’re not using as much water,” Campos said.

Campos has done xeriscaping at the Vail Bible Church and at the roundabouts near Wal-Mart, he said.

The county will probably replace some of its bluegrass lawn with fescue-based grass, which needs less water, Campos said.

They also might use mulch, rocks and plants like sage and lilac bushes, he said.

The xeriscaping efforts may eventually spread to the Justice Center and the Golden Eagle Senior Center, Johnson said.

The county eventually wants to install a “demonstration garden” beside the county building where residents can check out methods they could use at their homes, he said.

The water-conservation goals dovetail with the county’s ECObuild standards, which encourage green building and construction, Campos said.

The county commissioners will be presented with a few different plans for the work in August. Work could begin this summer.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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