When a group of volunteers from the Denver Water Department and the “green industry” coined the word “Xeriscape” as a way to promote water conserving landscape practices in 1981, they had no idea how far reaching their actions would be.
Now, seven years later, Xeriscape has grown from a solution for one community’s water problems to a national landscape water conservation education program with communities from coast to coast joining the Xeriscape movement.
What’s the appeal of Xeriscape? And what’s all the fuss about a new way to garden? First of all, there’s nothing new about the seven principles of Xeriscape, which are nothing more than good horticultural practices….good design, soil improvement, limited lawn area, use of mulch, appropriate plant-use, efficient watering, and regular maintenance. What is new is “marketing” these practices as a system for conserving water in the landscape under the name of Xeriscape.
Xeriscape as a Marketing Tool
Now if you were to approach your clients with the idea of water-conserving landscaping, what would you call it? For almost any real word that might describe such an idea (dry, conserving, low-water, native/natural, etc.), your clients will already have preconceived mental images of what it might look like, and they will be unable to open their minds to your ideas. Xeriscape, on the other hand, conjures no images. Most people on just hearing the word have no idea how it is even spelled, much less what it might mean. This is your golden moment of opportunity! In the few moments that your clients minds are “blank screens”, you will have their full attention. Show them colorful pictures of well-designed water-efficient landscapes that elicit “oohs and aahs”. This is one time that by a picture is definitely worth a thousand words….and you can start on your thousand words while they’re looking at pictures.
Where do you get pictures of Xeriscapes to show your clients? Hopefully you have begun a portfolio of your own Xeriscape work, but if not, the National Xeriscape Council, Inc. can help.
The National Xeriscape Council, Inc. was formed in 1986 as a result of mounting inquiries for Xeriscape information. As a non-profit educational organization, NXCl’s purpose is to “promote, encourage, assist, facilitate and establish community programs for water conservation achieved through sound landscaping practices. The Council shall promote research, educational, social or cultural activities to advance the objectives and purposes of its organization, and, as deemed necessary, shall also produce and/or distribute materials and information relevant to its purposes”.
The National Xeriscape Council, Inc. network currently covers 27 states. When you contact the NXCI office, you can get information on your nearest Xeriscape program, where your nearest Xeriscape conference will be held, who the professional members are (or any category of member), and other Xeriscape information.
Back to those pictures for your clients…NXCI has a color “How To” brochure, and samples of other Xeriscape publications that have been produced by various groups. NXCI even has a Xeriscape video that explains the Xeriscape concept and how it is implemented coast to coast. Regional videos have been developed for California, Texas, and Florida and are available from agencies within those States.
Getting Xeriscape information over the phone costs no more than the long distance call, and for a little extra you can receive Xeriscape information on a regular basis. By becoming a member of the National Xeriscape Council, Inc., you become part of the national Xeriscape network. You’ll be plugged into what’s happening Xeriscape-wise coast to coast. You’ll also receive the bi-monthly Xeriscape News newsletter, a membership card and an attractive membership pin. Your membership will also entitle you to discounts on other Xeriscape items and activities.
Memberships start at as little as $25.00 for individuals/students and $50 for professional/academic to $100 municipal, $250 supporting, or lifetime Charter membership (one-time $5000 contribution). Ninety percent of NXCl’s funding currently comes from memberships, so you are important to us. Without your support we are going to have a more difficult time introducing Xeriscape to the other 23 states.
For more information about the National Xeriscape Council, Inc. write or call:
The National Xeriscape Council
940 E. Fifty-first Street
Austin, Texas 78751-2241
Martha Latta is Xeriscape program manager for the city of Austin, Texas, which she has been organizing and implementing since July 1984. A registered landscape architect, she serves as president of the National Xeriscape Council, Inc., and is past chairperson of the Austin section of the ASLA. She is also a member of the Texas Turf Irrigation Association’s water conservation committee.