What Is Falling From The Sky?

Today we had a pretty interesting event happen in Phoenix. It was a rare event, actually.

However, when I tell you what it was, most of you will laugh. That’s right, I said you will laugh. Not because it is funny, necessarily, but because it is probably something that happens so often in your city that you don’t think twice about it. You probably even curse it under your breath every now and then.

But we were captivated and overjoyed. What was this event that sparked our interest, you ask?

Well, quite simply, it rained.

Yes, you read that right. It rained.

In 2011, Phoenix received less than five inches of rain in the entire year. For us, anytime it rains, it is a pretty big deal.

There are some places in the country that get that much rain in a month, possibly even within a couple of weeks. (Heck, at LAB headquarters in Northeast Ohio, we have been known to see that much rain in a matter of days.)

While the rest of the country may take something as simple as precipitation falling from the sky for granted, we Phoenicians appreciate every precious drop.

As one might imagine, when it comes to landscape irrigation here in Phoenix, it is a given that every installation will require some measure of supplemental irrigation.

Not every landscape installation is cactus and boulders; we do have quite a bit of turf throughout the city. As you can probably guess, that turf requires a large amount of water to keep it green.

If you’ve ever visited Phoenix or Scottsdale, you’ve no doubt noticed the number of golf courses throughout the valley. Fortunately, most large commercial properties--golf courses included--are required to use reclaimed water for irrigation.

The city of Tucson, about two hours south of Phoenix, now requires all new commercial construction projects to include a rainwater harvesting system with each landscape installation.

Rainwater can be collected off roofs, patios, and parking lots. The water can then be treated, stored, and used for landscape irrigation.

The city of Tucson is very forward thinking, in my opinion, with this requirement. While Tucson is currently the only municipality with this sort of ordinance, it is my hope that eventually others will follow suit.

Water is a precious commodity here in the desert. We are in the midst of a long-term, multi-year drought. The more steps that people voluntarily take to conserve their water use consumption on an annual basis, the more sustainable our footprint on the environment will be.

If the drought continues for many more years, I believe it will be just a matter of time before we see more restrictive regulations put in place regarding the use of water for landscaping.

Does your city have any water use restrictions or requirements for new projects? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: bcoleman001@gmail.com.