U.S. Water News Online
AUSTIN, Texas --Two years ago, Austin residents Loraine and Anthony Moore decided to xeriscape their conventionally-landscaped yard. In spite of a major investment in time, energy, and money to get their new landscaping established, they say they have not been sorry.
The Moores say their new landscaping held up well during the hot, dry summer. While homeowners throughout Texas struggled with lawns that turned brown under drought conditions, the Moore's native buffalo grass remained green and their plants bloomed even as they saved money by watering only once a week.
Their water bills in the summer average about $10 more than in winter.
Their house was built three years ago in Cypress Bend, a subdivision in Cedar Park where house prices range from $120,000 to $200,000. Their yard now features not only water-thrifty buffalo grass, but native flora such as lantana, salvia, and artemisia, as well as other drought resistant plants, such as antique roses.
Xeriscapers can save money in other ways, as well, say conservation officials. Austin offers rebates on water bills to xeriscapers. About 225 homeowners have received rebates on their water bills the past two years, city officials said. About 80 percent are new homes.
Now Cedar Park officials are considering requiring developers to use water-thrifty plants and grasses in landscaping new homes and businesses. Changing to native plants can be labor intensive and expensive. The Moores spent about $1,000 redoing their landscape and have worked on the yard for two years.
Michelle LaVigne, Cedar Park conservation planner, said many people still have misconceptions about xeriscaping, thinking it means lots of cacti and rocks.
"That's part of the education we're doing," LaVigne said. "We have a xeriscape garden at City Hall. When people come here, that's one of the first things they see."
LaVigne said Cedar Park, which limits lawn watering from May to September, actively encourages xeriscaping. The city offers classes on xeriscaping, usually in the spring.
The Moores, who moved here from Boston, can't understand why more people don't rip out their old landscaping. "If we'd known about xeriscaping, we wouldn't have let the developer put in landscaping," Anthony Moore said. "We would have done it then."
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