Xeriscape Practice in Georgia

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Xeriscape Practice in Georgia

  1. 1. Xeriscape Practice in Georgia Marjorie Palmer Spring 2008
  2. 2. The UGA Land Use Clinic provides innovative legal tools and strategies to help preserve land, water and sce-nic beauty while promoting creation of communities responsive to human and environmental needs. The clinichelps local governments, state agencies, landowners, and non-profit organizations to develop quality land useand growth management policies and practices. The clinic also gives UGA law students an opportunity to de-velop practical skills and provides them with knowledge of land use law and policy.For more information about the UGA Land Use Clinic contact: Jamie Baker Roskie, Managing Attorney UGA Land Use Clinic 110 Riverbend Road, Room 101 Athens, GA 30602-1510 (706) 583-0373 • Fax (706) 583-0612 jroskie@uga.edu
  3. 3. Xeriscape Practice in GeorgiaAuthor: Marjorie PalmerEditor: Jamie Baker RoskieUniversity of Georgia Land Use ClinicSpring 2008ContentsI. Introduction: the Georgia Drought and Water Use............................................................1II. Background on Xeriscape Landscaping Practice...............................................................1 A. Xeriscape Goals and Principles...................................................................................1 B. Sample Xeriscape Ordinances.....................................................................................3III. Integration of Xeriscape Principles into Current Land Use Law................................4IV. Xeriscape Species for Georgia................................................................................................5 A. Trees......................................................................................................................................5 B. Shrubs...................................................................................................................................5 C. Grasses.................................................................................................................................5 D. Ground Cover.....................................................................................................................5V. Conclusion........................................................................................................................................6
  4. 4. This paper provides background on the XeriscapeXeriscape Practice in concept and offers examples of Xeriscape practice in the Southeast and elsewhere in the United States.Georgia Further, this paper describes how Georgia counties may integrate Xeriscape practice into local land useMarjorie Palmer law and offers some examples of Xeriscape species appropriate for Georgia.Spring 2008I. Introduction: the Georgia Drought II. Background on Xeriscapeand Water Use Landscaping PracticeThe State of Georgia continues to endure the historic A. Xeriscape Goals and Principlesdrought that began in 2007. In September of 2007, Xeriscape practice, which seeks to protect thethe Georgia Department of Natural Resources environment by conserving water through efficientdeclared a level four drought response for counties landscape design, “can reduce outdoor waterin north Georgia, prohibiting “most types of outdoor consumption as much as 50 percent.” Municipalitieswater use.” Until recently, the State of Georgia in the Southeast and elsewhere have begun to enacteven mandated that counties reduce water use by Xeriscape ordinances to limit water use in hopes of10 percent. To more effectively address the water conserving their water supply.supply problem caused by the drought, an option forGeorgia municipalities is to incorporate wise water use In general, a Xeriscape landscape includes Xeriscapepractices and other Xeriscape principles into existing plants – those with low water needs for a particularordinances or to enact new Xeriscape ordinances. Currently, no jurisdictions in Georgia appear to have enacted See Georgia Drought, http://www.caes.uga.edu/topics/disas- Xeriscape ordinances. See E-mail from Gary Wade, Professorters/drought/ (last visited Feb. 19, 2008). and Extension Program Coordinator, Department of Horti- Press Release, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, culture, University of Georgia to Marjorie Palmer, Student,Citing Historic Drought, Georgia EPD Bans Most Outdoor Wa- University of Georgia School of Law (Mar. 2, 2008, 21:40ter Use in North Georgia (Sept. 28, 2007) available at http:// EST) (on file with author) (stating unawareness of Xeriscapewww.caes.uga.edu/topics/disasters/drought/pdf/sep2807.pdf. ordinances in Georgia but that he does not closely track local or In 2007, Governor Perdue issued a directive requiring county ordinances); E-mail from Jeff Christie, Liason: Coop-certain counties in Georgia to reduce water consumption by erative Extension/Association of County Commissioners often percent. Press Release, Georgia Department of Natural Georgia, University of Georgia, to Marjorie Palmer, Student,Resources, Level Four Drought Response Continues for Most University of Georgia School of Law, (Mar. 9, 2008, 21:10of North Georgia (May 6, 2008) available at http://www.gaepd. EST) (on file with author) (stating uncertainty as to whetherorg/Files_PDF/news/News%20Release%20Drought%20Com any jurisdictions in Georgia have adopted Xeriscape ordi-mittee%20050608.pdf. Due to compliance with restrictions set nances); Email from Jackie Jackson Teel, Natural Resourcesby EPD along with “voluntary water conservation,” the state Administrator for Chatham County, Savannah, Metropolitanexpects a reduction by at least ten percent and the “directive is Planning Commission, to Marjorie Palmer, Student, Univer-no longer in effect.” Id. sity of Georgia School of Law, (Mar. 17, 2008, 11:07 EST) In the early 1980s, the water utility for Denver, Colorado, (on file with author) (stating that neither Chatham County norin collaboration with local industry and academics, coined any of the jurisdictions in that area have adopted a Xeriscapethe term “Xeriscape” in developing a set of water-conserving ordinance). However, the Metropolitan Planning Commissionlandscape principles. See Conni Kunzler, Laws of the Land: “handles education on water conservation [which] includesCommunities are Turning to Landscape Regulations to Help Xeriscape” principles. Email from Jackie Jackson Teel, NaturalConserve Water, American City County, October 2004, Resources Administrator for Chatham County, Savannah, Met-at 42-47. The term fuses the word “Xeros,” which means ropolitan Planning Commission, to Marjorie Palmer, Student,“dry” in Greek, with the word “landscape.” See, e.g. Gary L. University of Georgia School of Law, (Mar. 17, 2008, 11:07Wade et al., A Guide to Developing a Water-Wise Landscape 1 EST) (on file with author).(2007), available at http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/ Wade supra note 4, at 1.B1073.htm. Kunzler, supra note 4, at 42. Xeriscape Practice in Georgia
  5. 5. region. More specifically, Xeriscape landscaping can survive without excessive watering.18 A practicalincorporates seven basic principles: (1) planning turf area uses a species appropriate for the region, andand design, (2) soil analysis and improvement, (3) is “large enough to be functional but with the smallestpractical turf areas, (4) appropriate plant selection, (5) possible perimeter.”19efficient irrigation, (6) mulching, and (7) appropriatemaintenance. By adhering to these principles, a Appropriate plant selection is the fourth and mostXeriscape landscape requires little maintenance, subjective principle of Xeriscape practice. Dougsaving both time and money without sacrificing Welsh, an expert in landscape water management,beauty.10 states, “Every plant can be a Xeriscape plant. If the plant is adapted to the region in terms of heat, cold,The first principle, planning and design, requires soil, etc., and is thus appropriate, then it can fit intolong term planning to achieve the primary goal of the a Xeriscape landscape.”20 Native species along withXeriscape landscape – water conservation.11 Good slow-growing perennials and shrubs are often theplanning involves defining use areas of a property and most appropriate plant selections.21 For example, anthinking ahead to future seasons and years.12 Also, invasive species, such as English Ivy, is a poor choicefor an individual property owner, design involves not only because it is not drought-resistant, but alsochoosing particular species for certain use areas since it may overtake other species in the landscape.22defined in the planning process.13 Efficient irrigation is another important principle ofSoil analysis and improvement, the second principle, Xeriscape practice, which is commonly required byrequires an assessment of the soil on a property and Xeriscape ordinances.23 Separate irrigation of plantsdeveloping a strategy for improving soil to allow with different water needs and use of drip irrigation,each “plant [to] use all the moisture available to it, especially for newly planted shrubs and trees, arepromoting the plant’s vigor and water-use efficiency.”14 efficient water-use techniques.24 Another techniqueSoil improvement may involve changing the physical is to adjust sprinkler heads in order to reduce overstructure of the soil – perhaps making the soil sandier watering and excess spray.25 Watering turfgrass onlyor more clay-like depending upon the needs of the upon visual exhibition of moisture stress is yet anotherplanned species for the plot.15 Altering the chemistry efficient irrigation practice.26is another soil improvement method; however,since Xeriscape landscaping ideally yields a low- The sixth principle, mulching, is an important elementmaintenance yard, “it’s far better to select plants that of a Xeriscape landscape.27 Use of mulches lowerscan grow in the range of your soil’s [chemistry] than soil temperatures and prevents evaporation, thusto try to alter it substantially.”16 conserving soil moisture.28 Mulching protects plant roots and “help[s] discourage soilborne diseases thatThe third principal, practical turf areas, encourages stress plants and cause them to have a higher demandcareful planning, considering water needs of specific for water.”29 Organic mulches may include bark,grass types and the resident’s preferred level ofmaintenance.17 In the Southeast, several grass types 18 Id. at 45, 153. See also infra Part IV(c). 19 Ellefson, supra note 8, at 46. 20 Id. at 9, 73. Connie Lockhart Ellefson, Thomas L. Stephens Doug 21 Id. at 74.Welsh, Xeriscape Gardening 6 (1992). 22 Id. at 76. Id. at 9; Wade supra note 4, at 1. 23 See, e.g., Kunzler, supra note 4, at 46 (discussing watering10 Wade, supra note 4, at 1. restrictions in Volusia County’s Xeriscape ordinance). See also11 Ellefson, supra note 8, at 11. infra Part II(b).12 Id. 24 Wade, supra note 4, at 11, 14.13 Id. at 12. 25 Id. at 12.14 Id. at 33. 26 Id. at 14.15 Id. at 35-36. 27 Ellefson, supra note 8, at 117.16 Id. at 39. 28 Id.; Wade, supra note 4, at 14.17 Id. at 45. 29 Wade, supra note 4, at 15. Xeriscape Practice in Georgia
  6. 6. wood chips, pine needles, and peat moss, among other Over the course of three years, Volusia County heldmaterials.30 numerous large, public meetings for all interested parties to attend along with smaller meetings withThe last Xeriscape principle, appropriate maintenance, particular stakeholders.41 By allowing numerousis aimed towards reducing plants’ water needs by opportunities for answering questions and addressing“discourag[ing] water-demanding new growth.”31 In concerns, the County successfully promoted publicterms of actual gardening requirements, appropriate understanding and approval of Xeriscape practice andmaintenance involves “weeding, feeding, pruning ultimately the Xeriscape ordinance.42(this includes mowing), pest control, and watering.”32However, low-level maintenance is one of the Similarly Tucson, Arizona’s Xeriscape ordinancehallmarks of any Xeriscape landscape; appropriate allows for an “oasis” of high-water use plants but limitsXeriscape maintenance requires minimization of the zone to 10 percent of the landscaped area.43 Thewatering and fertilizer application.33 Tucson Xeriscape ordinance only allows plants with low water needs in the remaining landscaped area.44B. Sample Xeriscape Ordinances The City of Tucson maintains a list of approved plantsVolusia County, Florida along with Tucson, Arizona while “an advisory board reviews requests to add orand Lafayette, Colorado are a few of the localities remove plants from the list.” Under the ordinance, 45through the United States that have adopted Xeriscape builders must submit landscape plans for developmentordinances.34 These ordinances represent different projects, and upon completion of construction cityapproaches to incorporating Xeriscape practice into officials inspect the property to verify compliancelocal landscaping laws. The primary goal of each of with the landscape plan.46 To help builders withthese ordinances is to reduce water use in response to meeting their customers’ needs while also complyingscarce water resources.35 with the requirements of the ordinance, the City of Tucson water department offers landscape designersVolusia County, Florida serves as an example of the opportunity to enroll in a free Xeriscape trainingXeriscape practice in the Southeast.36 The Volusia class at the University of Arizona.47County Xeriscape ordinance divides landscapedareas into three zones according to irrigation needs.37 Taking a slightly different approach, Lafayette,Knowing that Saint Augustine grass was popular in Colorado’s Xeriscape ordinance requires designationresidential areas, ordinance drafters determined the of four “hydro zones” for plants with high, medium,irrigation needs of that grass species.38 Under the low, and very low water needs.48 The high “hydroordinance itself, half of a landscaped area may require zone” may include species needing up to twentythat amount of water per week.39 One-fourth of the gallons of water per square foot in a given seasonlandscaped area may use half that amount of water, while species in the low “hydro zone” only requireand the last one-fourth may only use a fourth of that irrigation when first planted but eventually thriveamount.40 41 Id. 42 Id. 43 Id. at 44.30 Ellefson, supra note 8, at 120-21. 44 Id.31 Wade, supra note 4, at 16. 45 Id.32 Ellefson, supra note 8, at 124. 46 Id. at 44-45.33 Wade, supra note 4, at 16-17. 47 Id. at 45. See also, The University of Arizona, Pima34 See generally Kunzler, supra note 4 (discussing these County Cooperative Extension, SmartScape Training Series,ordinances). http://cals.arizona.edu/pima/smartscape/workshops.html (last35 Id. at 42. visited Mar. 9, 2008); Email from Kathryn Hahne, Program36 Id. at 42, 46. Coordinator, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension37 Id. at 46. SmartScape Program, to Marjorie Palmer, Student, University38 Id. of Georgia School of Law (Mar. 3, 2008, 11:00:00 EST) (on39 Id. file with author).40 Id. 48 Kunzler, supra note 4, at 44-45. Xeriscape Practice in Georgia
  7. 7. without regular irrigation.49 By grouping species planning and design, soil analysis and improvement,according to water needs, this approach allows practical turf areas, appropriate plant selection,for efficient irrigation of plants within each zone.50 efficient irrigation, mulching, and appropriateLafayette’s Xeriscape ordinance requires builders maintenance will allow residents to incorporateto submit a “hydro zone” map to the City as well as Xeriscape practice into their individual approaches tocalculations that the average water requirements for gardening and lawn care in order to save both moneythe landscaped area will not exceed fifteen gallons and water.55per square foot in a season.51 The City reviews the“hydro zone” map to ensure that each zone includes Local land use regulations may currently include listsappropriate species.52 of approved species. In addition to such a list, a local land use ordinance could include a list of Xeriscape species for the area and could even establish a process for adding and removing species from the list.56 SuchIII. Integration of Xeriscape a list will assist the residents in making appropriate choices in their process of planning and designingPrinciples into Current Land Use Xeriscape landscapes. Likewise, offering guidanceLaw to builders and developers, possibly in the form of a training program, not unlike the one Tucson offersMost Georgia counties could effectively integrate to landscape designers, will allow local governmentXeriscape practice and principles into current land use to effectively implement any new Xeriscape design-ordinances, such as those for landscaping. Specifically, based requirements.57 Changes and additions suchlocal law could impose water restrictions, provide as these could enable a Georgia municipality tofor division of residential property into water use successfully integrate Xeriscape landscaping practicezones, and permit use of mulches. Further, individual into current land use regulations.counties could develop a list of approved Xeriscapespecies and establish a process for revising that list.Perhaps Lafayette, Colorado’s “hydro zone” approach53would work well in Georgia. With the “hydro zones”approach, local governments could require buildersto submit plans for grouping species based on waterneeds within the currently required landscape plan.By reviewing such plans, municipalities may verifycompliance with Xeriscape principles set forth byregulation. This procedure will likely allow forefficient monitoring and enforcement, more so than Florida).watering restrictions alone. 55 See Wade, supra note 4, at 1 (explaining that implementa- tion of the seven Xeriscape principles by individuals reducesProviding the public with sufficient information about water consumption while also saving time by reducing main- tenance requirements); see also Kunzler, supra note 4, at 47Xeriscape practice is essential to the success and (emphasizing that communities enacting Xeriscape ordinancesacceptance of the integration of Xeriscape principles should also provide education and training to provide theinto current regulations.54 Educating the public on public with “the tools and knowledge to implement the ordi- nance”).49 Id. 56 See, e.g., Kunzler, supra note 4, at 44 (describing Tucson’s50 Id. system maintaining a list of approved Xeriscape species,51 Id. at 46. which involves an advisory board to review proposals to add or52 Id. remove species).53 Id. at 45-46. 57 See id. at 45 (noting that the landscape designers and build-54 See id. at 46 (discussing the high level of public involve- ers in Tucson may enroll in a Xeriscape training class at thement in passing a Xeriscape ordinance in Volusia County, University of Arizona). Xeriscape Practice in Georgia
  8. 8. flowering Oakleaf Hydrangea and Winter JasmineIV. Xeriscape Species for Georgia would meet Xeriscape standards in most regions of Georgia.65 Azalea hybrids and Southern IndianMany popular tree, shrub, grass, ground cover, Azalea also have low water needs in certain regionsand other plant species may qualify as Xeriscape and could add color to a Xeriscape landscape.66species in certain areas of Georgia due to their lowto medium irrigation needs. A plant species thatqualifies as Xeriscape in one region of Georgia, C. Grasseshowever, may not qualify elsewhere.58 Therefore, Of the popular grass types, Bermudagrass is a goodindividual municipalities must explore what species choice in terms of drought resistance in Georgia. 67may be appropriate for their particular region.59 What Tifway Bermuda, in particular, requires “very low”follows is a general discussion of the types of tree, water use and is in the “very high” range in terms ofshrub, grass, and ground cover species that qualify as drought resistance. In cold weather, Bermudagrass 68Xeriscape in most parts of Georgia. will not brown as quickly as other grass-types.69 Another grass type with low water needs is Meyer Zoysia; however, its “low” range drought resistanceA. Trees renders it a slightly less durable grass choice.70Local landscaping ordinances may set requirementsfor tree density and size. Such requirements may bemet with durable, low maintenance Xeriscape tree D. Ground Coverspecies. Smaller trees, such as Silverbell, Savannah A Xeriscape landscape in Georgia may includeHolly, Saucer Magnolia, and Virginia Pine, are numerous ground cover species. Many ornamentalappropriate Xeriscape species throughout most of the grasses, such as upland sea oats and several varietiesState.60 Hetz and Pfitzer Juniper, Southern Magnolia, of fountain grass, have low water needs and qualifyand Red Maple are just a few examples of larger tree as Xeriscape species. Other Xeriscape ground 71species that have low irrigation needs in most regions cover species include Shore Juniper, Aaronsbeard St.of Georgia.61 Johnswort, and Evergreen Candytuft.72 As this summary reveals, a Xeriscape landscapeB. Shrubs need not be sparse, dull or in any way aestheticallyXeriscape practice also encourages use of drought- displeasing. Rather, a Xeriscape design may includetolerant shrubbery to add variety to a landscape.62 A a range of textures and colors, with flowering species,Xeriscape landscape could include evergreen shrubs evergreens, annuals, and perennials thriving in variedwith low water needs.63 Smaller evergreen shrubs levels of shade and sunlight.with low water needs include Lavender cotton andseveral species of Holly.64 With low irrigation needs,58 See generally, Wade, supra note 4 (dividing Georgia intohardiness zones, listing Xeriscape plant species, and indicatingthe particular zone or zones where each species may be appro-priately incorporated into a Xeriscape landscape).59 In particular, A Guide to Developing a Water-Wise Land-scape by Gary L. Wade et al., cited throughout this paper,provides region-specific information on Xeriscape species forGeorgia. See generally id.60 Id. at 25. 65 Wade, supra note 4, at 2261 Id. at 25. 66 Id. at 21, 23.62 Id. at 4 (noting how many popular shrub species “grow well 67 Ellefson, supra note 8, at 153.in low-water use zones where they are not irrigated once they 68 Wade, supra note 4, at 10.are established”). 69 Ellefson, supra note 8, at 153.63 Id. at 21-22. 70 Wade, supra note 4, at 10.64 Ellefson, supra note 8, at 157-158; Wade, supra note 4, at 71 Id. at 20.21-23. 72 Id. at 20, 30. Xeriscape Practice in Georgia
  9. 9. V. ConclusionAs the historic drought in Georgia continues, countiesface the challenge of reducing water consumption.73Integration of Xeriscape principles into local landuse regulations will better equip counties to reducewater consumption and conserve Georgia’s waterresources.74 Other jurisdictions’ Xeriscape ordinancesand educational programs offer significant guidancefor Georgia in its efforts to incorporate Xeriscapeprinciples into land use law and policy.75 With a fewchanges, Georgia counties may integrate Xeriscapepractice into land use law to meet their shared goal ofconserving water resources.7673 See supra Part I.74 Id.75 See Part II(b).76 Id. Xeriscape Practice in Georgia
  10. 10. Land Use ClinicUniversity of Georgia River Basin Center 110 Riverbend Road, Room 101 Athens, GA 30602-1510 (706) 583-0373 • Fax (706) 583-0612http://www.law.uga.edu/landuseclinic/

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