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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

Want To Save Thousands Of Gallons Of Water? Try Flipping Your Grassy Park Strip To A ‘Localscape’

A photo of works working on the landscape.
Lexi Peery
Officials with the Department of Natural Resources and landscaping volunteers work on flipping a park strip outside of the “The Real UP House” in Herriman. This is part of the state’s “Blitz Flip” campaign to replace grass with localscaping.

The once grassy park strips outside of the “The Real UP House” in Herriman were ripped out Tuesday morning by landscaping volunteers and officials from Utah’s Department of Natural Resources.

It’s one of four houses that are participating in the state’s “Flip Blitz” campaign to replace the stretch of grass between the street and sidewalk with “localscapes,” which incorporate native, waterwise plants and more efficient watering systems, like drip irrigation. It’s started small with a handful of homes, but state officials hope to expand it in the coming years.

Lynette Hamblin owns the home that’s modeled after the Disney movie “Up” and has already converted most of her outdoor space to fit localscapes criteria. She said she’s seen her water bill cut almost in half since converting her yards to localscapes, and she likes what it’s done to her property.

“With the drought that Utah has been in for years, we know that we're doing our part,” Hamblin said. “[Localscaping] isn’t cacti, rocks, dry and just ... blah. It's liveliness, it's bees, it's feeding the birds. It's alive.”

Officials estimate one flipped park strip can save 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of water a year. Division of Water Resources Director Candice Hasenyager said this a small way for people across the state to save water.

“Parks strips are typically areas that are really hard to irrigate — they're narrow, they can't get a good sprinkler system on them that's going to water them efficiently,” she said. “So this is one place that's a great place to start, [since] it's not used for anything other than more aesthetic.”

Candice Hasenyager rolling up sod.
Lexi Peery
Division of Water Resources Director Candice Hasenyager rolling up sod at the “Real UP House” in Herriman Tuesday morning. The home’s park strips are being replaced by localscaping.

Before people start ripping out grass in their yards though, officials encourage them to talk to their local water districts so they do it right for the area they’re in. They project it can cost between $500 to $1,500 to convert a strip of lawn to localscapes, but some cities and water districts offer rebates.

Kim Eden owns Eden’s Garden Design based in Bluffdale and she was one of a few landscaping companies helping with the “Flip Blitz.” Standing outside Hamblin’s home, broom in hand, she echoed the importance of researching and planning beforehand.

“[Localscaping] can turn out really easy and really nice for you. It can [also] become a nightmare if it's done wrong,” Eden said. “So to make it worth it, definitely figure out what's going to work best, because it's not just ripping out the sod. It's what you put in after and how you put it in that makes it worthwhile.”

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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