What is Xeriscaping?
Xeriscaping means water-wise or water-efficient landscaping. It involves landscaping a large area (see requirements below) with plants that are appropriate to dry climates and providing healthy growing conditions. Xeriscaping creates an environmentally friendly and beautiful landscape that can be maintained with little or no supplementary watering once plants are established.
The word ‘xeriscape’ might bring a picture of a desert-like landscape or a rock garden to mind but a xeriscape landscape can be beautiful, lush, and green. The combination of thoughtful landscape design, good soil, well placed trees, shrubs, perennials, and a thick layer of mulch will yield a low-maintenance and eye-appealing yard.
Xeriscaping does not mean adding drought tolerant plants to existing garden spaces. Xeriscaping includes removing a large area of turf, like a front yard lawn, and replacing it with native and/or drought tolerant plants. It includes amending the soil depth and quality, so that plants will thrive in dry conditions, and adding a thick layer of mulch so that moisture doesn’t evaporate. The goal of a xeriscape landscape is to have a yard space that is self-sufficient, low-maintenance, and beautiful.
This sounds great! How do I start?
If you have an idea for a project and are interested in finding out if it will work, go online (May 1, 2021) and fill out the pre-application form.
A Town staff member will give you a call and book a preliminary yard inspection. This will ensure that implementing your idea will meet the program specifications laid out by the Town.
The xeriscaping project must be a minimum of 46 m² in area for a residential property or 90 m² for a multi-family/condo, business or institutional property.
Please apply BEFORE you've started your landscape project if possible. Already started? Apply anyways and we can chat about whether or not your project is eligible.
40% of the landscaped area needs to consist of drought tolerant plants (mature size taken into account).
- If the yard area is less than 46 m² for residential or less than 90 m² for a condo, business/institution, but the intent is to xeriscape the entire area, the project would still be considered for the program.
- Develop a landscape design.
- The landscaping company or homeowner must provide a landscape plan that calculates the area of the plants at their mature size, ensuring that it meets the 40% criteria. Tree size is calculated at 25% of mature size.
- Submit landscape design plan to the Town for approval
- Finalized landscape design must be submitted within 2 weeks of the yard inspection with the Town representative.
- After approval is received, start your project! Applicants have 10 weeks to complete the project from the date of the inspection.
- Once complete, book a post-inspection with the Town staff member and complete the online water conservation xeriscape rebate application (link will be sent via email prior to inspection).
- Got irrigation? Businesses and institutions are required to book an irrigation assessment with the Town after completion of the project. Residents are encouraged to book an assessment as well, but it is not a requirement.
- Upon application approval, patiently wait for your rebate cheque to arrive in the mail in 4-6 week's time.
Like you, we want this process to be as smooth as possible. For a successful xeriscape project process, please keep the following things in mind:
- Items eligible for the rebate are: drought tolerant/deer resistant plants (see Drought Tolerant Plant List), soil amendment, mulch, and turf removal equipment rental (DIY projects).
- Items not eligible for the rebate are: labor/installation fees, artificial turf, concrete, boulders, pathways, arbors, pergolas, patio stones or decking.
- If turf is part of your backyard xeriscape plan, it must be a certified drought tolerant turf and cover less than 30% of the total yard area.
- DIY'ers, please keep your receipts for all of these items. Please label and highlight purchased plants (pot-sizes and quantities), mulch, and dirt, on receipts. It works to your benefit if we know exactly what you purchased and at what cost.
- Ask your landscaper for a fully itemized invoice to provide clarity on what materials were purchased for your landscape and at what cost.
- We want your plants to survive and thrive as much as you do! Please give plants a mulch depth of 2 inches over the entire xeriscape area, and a depth of 4 inches around tree and root area. Ensure that mulch is not touching the trunk of the tree, but is 3-4 inches away from the trunk.
Why is creating a xeriscape landscape important?
- The Town of Okotoks wants to encourage and reward you for your water conservation efforts!
- With growing demands on water supply and potential droughts, it is everyone’s responsibility to rethink appropriate water use. As up to 30% of summer residential water is utilized on lawns and gardens, xeriscaping can play a significant role in reducing potable (treated) water consumption.
Why should I have an irrigation assessment if I have an irrigation system in place?
A xeriscape landscape needs less water than a traditional landscape. Participating in an irrigation assessment will help to optimize your irrigation system so that it provides water when and where your new landscape needs it. Save water, and protect your investment!