LAS CRUCES, NMWhile municipalities may mandate communitywide water conservation measures, individualsparticularly homeownerscan make significant contributions to water conservation in urban environments. Hoping to provide urban planners with more information about how residents' landscape preferences affect municipal water supplies, a team from New Mexico State University surveyed homeowners in Santa Fe about their attitudes toward high desert plants. Rolston St. Hilaire, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen, and Patrick Torres reported on their study of residents' preferences for urban landscapes and water conservation strategies in a recent issue of HortTechnology.
The survey contained questions about homeowners' perceptions of desert plants, trees, and grass lawns in home landscapes; willingness to change current home landscapes; opinions on current water use practices; and factors that could affect their willingness to reduce water use. "Santa Fe, a city that boasts a long history of water conservation efforts, also has one of the highest water usage rates in the United States for a city of its size", noted the researchers.
According to the survey, almost one-third of the respondents agreed that high desert plants are not their favorite varieties. "However, most Santa Fe residents are satisfied with these plants, indicating that they provide the type of landscape they desire", observed the researchers. They added that 64% of residents agreed that high desert plants provided the variety they needed in their residential landscapes, and 92% of residents would use high desert plants to landscape their front yard. Homeowners had a strong preference for retaining their current desert landscapes and converting traditional landscapes to high desert-adapted landscapes.
When homeowners who irrigated their landscapes were asked what factors would cause them to use less water, the most selected optionchosen by 94% of respondentswas "water shortages".
|Contact: Michael W. Neff|
American Society for Horticultural Science