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Localscapes 101

Localscapes is a method of landscaping developed for Utah-- though any landscape irrigated with a sprinkler system can use the design principles to create an efficient landscape. Localscapes makes it easier for a homeowner to create a functional landscape, reduce maintenance through proper design and installation, increase curb appeal, simplify irrigation and conserve water. For free designs you can copy and more information, visit

Localscapes is servicemarked by the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. Contact us with inquiries or visit the website.

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Localscapes 101

  1. 1. Instructor: Cynthia Bee, Outreach Coordinator, Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District
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  4. 4. Conservation, new water supplies, and new infrastructure Source: Governor’s Office of Management and Budget - 1,000,000 2,000,000 3,000,000 4,000,000 5,000,000 6,000,000 Utah’s population growth
  5. 5. Conservation Progress and Approaches 2% 10% 15% 16% 19% 11% 2% 9% 16% 16% 20% 4% 11% 15% 0% 10% 20% 30% 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Situational Conservation • Example: Structural Conservation • Example:
  6. 6. The Epiphany: Landscapes should be designed to fit irrigation rather than trying to force irrigation to fit landscapes. Utah needs its own landscaping style
  7. 7. Homeowner Concerns: • 82% want more Utah specific landscape information • 43% experienced frustration when selecting the “right” plants • ONLY 2% were fully satisfied with their landscapes
  8. 8. What does the public want?
  9. 9. PROS • Lush and colorful all season • High curb appeal CONS • Difficult to water efficiently • High water use • Many high-maintenance edges and shapes to maintain English-Style Landscape
  10. 10. Low-Density Xeriscape PROS: • Conserves Water • Lower Maintenance • Simple Irrigation Cons: • Low curb appeal • Landscape is not useful
  11. 11. Landscape Spectrum Traditional Lawn-Dominant Landscape “Zeroscape” Localscapes Range Yard typical to many Utahns Yard type many Utahns are afraid they’ll be told to have Moderate approach advocated by Localscapes
  12. 12. The Localscapes House Drawings & Design by Shaun Moser, Conservation Garden Park
  13. 13. 2. Gathering Areas 3. Activity Zones 1. Central Open Shape 4. Paths 5. Plantings Localscape House- Plan View
  14. 14. • Sea of Green rests the eye between busier plantings. • Conveys calm. • Visually demonstrates the power of positive/ negative space. • Organizes space. When lawn is a defined shape, everything else APPEARS “cleaner”. Reason We Love Lawn (That you may not realize) Landscape installation by Aposhian Landscaping Design by Conservation Garden Park staff
  15. 15. The New Lawn Epiphany • Lawn is a single, central shape that is a PLANNED element in the landscape. • Lawns are for active recreation or serve as an accent, they are not a full-surface groundcover.
  16. 16. What’s Wrong with This Design? Obstacles in lawn make mowing and edging more time consuming. Trees compete with lawn for water = shallow roots/ stress. Unfriendly front walk = low curb appeal Narrow bits of lawn are impossible to water efficiently + high maintenance while providing no useful benefit. Lawn serves no purpose in this location except to create work with no reward. Trees block yard view from front door = safety concernThe whole yard is boring = no reason to be out here! Overhead sprinklers in planting beds = WAYYY more weeds than drip- irrigated + mulched beds. Heat from foundation and walkway bakes non-Utah happy plants. Lots of edges to maintain next to concrete walk, driveway etc. = more work Lawn adjacent to concrete requires more water to stay green = overwatering rest of yard. Illustration by Cynthia Bee
  17. 17. Why is This Design Better? Portion of lawn available for recreational use = ALL of it! NO obstacles in lawn make mowing and edging LESS time consuming. Trees do NOT compete with lawn for water = happy trees. Walkway enters from sidewalk instead of the driveway = increased safety + curb appeal Narrow bits of lawn are eliminated. All lawn is functional. Strong central shape organizes the space. Front yard seating sends a VERY warm and friendly vibe = reduced maintenance + curb appeal Open view of yard from front door = increased safety Stepping stone path creates sense of interest + improves function. Drip irrigation in planting beds + 3-4” of mulch reduces weeds 85% vs. overhead watering- only water the plants you want! Utah-Happy plants can take the heat from foundations and walkways. Very few lawn edges to maintain next to concrete = time + water savings. Planted park strips with drip irrigation keep overspray from damaging roads + curb appeal.Illustration by Cynthia Bee
  18. 18. Drip Irrigation Inefficient use of lawn leads to many areas of overspray Efficient use of lawn reduces overspray Irrigation cannot make an inefficiently designed landscape, efficient Requires 17 sprinkler heads, 3 zones. Requires 7 sprinkler heads, 1 sprinkler zone and 1-2 drip irrigation zones. Obstacles in lawn reduce efficiency and create dry spots.
  19. 19. • Lots of edges to maintain • Grass is NOT useful • Visually disorganized • ONE edge to maintain • ALL grass is useful • Well organized, “clean” look Island in Lawn VS. Lawn as Island
  20. 20. Localscapes for New Landscapes
  21. 21. Step 1: Central Open Space – Front Yard
  22. 22. Step 1: Central Open Space-- Backyard
  23. 23. Common Residential Lot Shapes Cul-De-Sac Rectangular Corner
  24. 24. Flexible Shapes Fit Any Landscape • Rectangular Lot • Corner Lot • Cul-De-Sac Lot Central Open Space design technique can be applied to ANY lot shape.
  25. 25. Central Open Spaces Can Fit Any Size Lot • Large Lot • Moderate Lot• Small Lot • 20,000 sq. ft. or more 10,000- 20,000 sq. ft.5,000- 10,000 sq. ft. Scale the shape to the size of the lot
  26. 26. A Lawnless Yard STILL Orients Around Central Open Space
  27. 27. Park Strip Lawn Removal Lawn in parkstrips and side yards is removed Follow us on Facebook for free design ideas you can copy!
  28. 28. Side Yard Solutions Remove lawn from narrow spaces and instead create an inviting pass-through experience.
  29. 29. Step 2: Gathering Spaces “Hardscape” elements including: • Patios • Informal Seating Areas • Covered Seating • Decks • Storage/ Sheds • Overflow Parking
  30. 30. Step 2: Gathering Spaces • Rectangular Lot • Corner Lot • Cul De Sac Lot
  31. 31. Gathering Area Examples Front yard gathering spaces Rear yard gathering spaces Landscape Design by R. Michael Kelly Consultants Installation by Rollins Landscaping
  32. 32. Creates a front porch for those without a front porch
  33. 33. Backyard seating areas extend the living space of the home
  34. 34. STEP 2: Gathering Area- Front Yard Front Yard Seating Area
  35. 35. Step 2: Gathering Areas- Back Yard Private Seating Area Patio
  36. 36. Step 3: Activity Zones • Vegetable Gardens • Children’s Play Area • Storage • Sport Courts • Horseshoe Pit • Trampoline • Hot Tub • Other active outdoor recreation
  37. 37. Step 3: Activity Zones Passive Activity Zones Play Spaces Vegetable Gardens & More
  38. 38. Designed Activities Activity zones are intentionally created for a specific use- without lawn as surfacing.
  39. 39. Activity Zone Examples Ornamental, Un-Mowed Meadow Grass around Trampoline Faux Lawn Putting Green
  40. 40. Step 3: Activity Zone- Back Yard Children’s Play Area Playground Bark Surfacing Vegetable Garden Raised Beds on Bark Mulch
  41. 41. Step 4- Paths Connect the previous elements with pathways. • Use hard surfacing for public paths. • Soft surfacing, such as gravel, can be used on secondary paths. Installation by Aposhian Landscaping
  42. 42. Step 4: Paths Rectangular Lot Corner Lot Cul De Sac Lot Primary Path Secondary Path Primary Path Secondary Path Primary Paths Secondary Path Secondary Path
  43. 43. Path Examples Primary paths are those which serve as a main artery to the home. Pathway Surface Materials Secondary Paths are those which provide alternative routes or access to non-critical spaces. Primary Paths Secondary Paths
  44. 44. Step 4: Paths- Front Yard Primary Path Continuous Hard SurfaceSecondary Path Gravel, Stepping Stones etc.
  45. 45. Step 4: Paths- Back Yard
  46. 46. Step 5- Planting Beds • Remaining space becomes planting beds. • Planting beds are ALWAYS irrigated with drip or bubblers- saves water and dramatically decreases weeds. • Unlike lawn, efficiency of planting beds is not dependent on shape.
  47. 47. Planting Beds 1. Trees 2. Shrubs & Grasses 3. Perennials & Groundcover Add plantings, layer by layer
  48. 48. Standard Lot Design complete with the 5 steps. 50
  49. 49. Corner Lot Functional + Family Friendly 51
  50. 50. Cul-De- Sac Lot 52 Very Low Water + Veggie & Herb Gardens
  51. 51. Completed front yard design
  52. 52. Completed backyard design
  53. 53. Converting an Existing Yard to a Localscape
  54. 54. Reverse the 5 steps to convert an existing yard to a Localscape. BEFORE AFTER Do-it-yourself homeowner conversion to a Localscape over a several year period.
  55. 55. Localscapes Hydrozoning 1)Lawn Watered with spray heads. Uses the most water in the landscape. 2) Planter Beds Watered with drip irrigation. Watered once a week on average.
  56. 56. Typical Utah Front Yard
  57. 57. Phase 1: Flip Your Strip Park strip sprinklers are usually on the same zone. Overspray on road = Spray Zone 1 = Spray Pattern
  58. 58. Park Strip Lawn Removal Lawn in parkstrips and side yards is removed Follow us on Facebook for free design ideas you can copy!
  59. 59. Retrofit some heads to drip, cap unused heads = RETROFITTED Sprinker Head = CAPPED Sprinker Head = Drip Irrigation Tubing TIP: No need to dig up all old pipe, cap off unnecessary spray heads.
  60. 60. Use a drip retrofit kit from your sprinkler brand.
  61. 61. BEFORE AFTER Remove Inefficient + high maintenance lawn park strip Replace with water-efficient plants, mulch, and drip irrigation
  62. 62. Side Yard Solutions Remove lawn from narrow spaces and instead create an inviting pass-through experience.
  63. 63. Side yard lawn before needed here Typical Utah Side Yard Lawn often struggles in side yards because conditions are more extreme. Too hot, too shady, too much foot traffic etc.
  64. 64. Phase 2: Switch the Side Yard = RETROFITTED Sprinker Head = CAPPED Sprinker Head = Drip Irrigation Tubing
  65. 65. Existing sprinkler layout for front yard Phase 2: Side Yard Switch + Anchor Island = Spray Zone 1 = Spray Zone 2 = Spray Zone 3
  66. 66. Side Yard Plantings/ No Landscape Islands Odd bits of lawn removed, drip irrigation installed. Landscape island is anchored to side yard = Capped Heads = Spray Zone 1 converted to drip = Spray Zone 2, add 2 heads from Zone 1 = Spray Zone 3, remove 3 heads
  67. 67. Front yard layout before Phase 2 Phase 2- Change out side yards and anchor landscape island BEFORE AFTER
  68. 68. Phase 3- Lawn Becomes a Central Shape = Spray Zone 2 add new drip lines/ emitters as needed = Spray Zone 3, cap 4 heads, adjust spray pattern = Spray Zone 4, cap remaining heads, convert to drip
  69. 69. Phase 2 Front Yard Layout Completed Phase 3 Front Yard Layout
  70. 70. Front Yard Central Open Shape Example Creeping Thyme Groundcover No obstacles in lawn = easy maintenance
  71. 71. Typical Backyard
  72. 72. Side Yard Lawn Removed Lawn removed around existing evergreen.
  73. 73. Localscaped Backyard Swing set Relocated outside of lawn Lawn reconfigured Lawn removed under existing tree Patio enlarged
  74. 74. Localscaped Backyard 3. Activity Zone 2. Gathering Space 1. Central Open Shape 4. Path 5. Plantings
  75. 75. Localscaped Backyard Example
  76. 76. Where to Begin? The average GRASS parkstrip requires 10,000 + gallons of water per season.
  77. 77. Localscape Management How to KEEP Your Localscape Low-Maintenance
  78. 78. What About Weeds? Plants (including weeds) need: 1. Soil 2. Nutrients 3. Air 4. Sunlight 5. Water If the 5 conditions are provided, weeds grow anywhere!
  79. 79. To Control Weeds, Control Water • ONLY use drip irrigation to water planting beds. Apply water just to the plants you wish to keep. • Prevent overspray in beds from lawn sprinklers. • Localscapes are designed to make it easier to apply water just where you want it– the major reason why lawn is a central open shape.
  80. 80. Much Ado About Mulching • 3-4” coat of mulch keeps sunlight from reaching weed seed. • Weed barrier fabric is only recommended under inorganic mulch. It degrades over time, decreases soil quality and becomes a weed itself. • If high winds are an issue, use rock mulch. • Fine mulches, thickly applied, prevent more sunlight from reaching the soil than larger mulches.
  81. 81. Sugarhouse, Utah EXAMPLE HOMES
  82. 82. Sugarhouse, Utah
  83. 83. Sandy, Utah
  84. 84. Midvale, Utah
  85. 85. Salt Lake City, Utah
  86. 86. West Valley, Utah
  87. 87. Holladay, Utah Creeping Thyme Lawn
  88. 88. Herriman, Utah
  89. 89. Taylorsville, Utah