Saturday, June 29, 2013

God is a Designer

And yes, I am Mormon.

I don't talk about religion much on this blog. There are too many fights to be had, too much bashing what a person believes without understanding why he believes it. But this week I feel strongly that I need to share a little of what I believe.

I believe in God. I believe that humans were created in the image of God. I believe that God created everything in this universe and that the design is--exquisit.

Because we are created in God's image, we too, are suposed to create. And our designs have the capacity to be exquisit. I believe that we are suposed to work to make our creations closer to God's standard of design. I don't think any of us will achieve that in this life, but we still have to try.

I believe each of us is responsible to use our creative talents to the best of our ability. Some people say they are not creative, or that they lack talents. This is not true. The talents are there, they may be buried by lack of use or by teachings of a harsh system. Some people think they have no skill because they compare themselves to others.

All of the reasons and false logic don't matter.

You were created by God to create and design. Go out and do it.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Utah water restrictions and what to do about them

This is a water feature at Lehi city hall. This photo was taken after water
restrictions went in place. Seems like a bad time to be using water strictly
for show.

It shouldn't be a surprise to Utahns that they live in the second driest state in the US. But every drought year, the cities and residents panic and flail as water restrictions are implemented.

Most of this hassle could have been avoided with a little planning. Specifically by designing gardens that are drought resistant. Here are some planning tips:

  1. Catch and use runoff water. Quite often extra water can be stored in the ground. This includes snow and rain that hits the roof,  runoff from hardscapes, and water running on sloped ground.
  2. Choose the right plants for the right part of the landscape. Make sure you pay attention to needs for sun and shade. And remember, if you caught enough runoff, you might have enough to plant some thirsty plants and keep them happy.
  3. You may still need an irrigation system, but it will need to be designed it to limit the water thrown into the air and to be used occasionally rather than every day or even every week.
  4. Go ahead and plant a well designed vegetable garden and orchard. If you water correctly and use the produce, you will still have an overall water use reduction in the environment.
I know this is new to many people, but just because it is new to you doesn't mean it is untested. In fact, everything I am talking about I started using in designs over ten years ago. 

This is Salvia nemorosa, a very drought
resistant plant. This one has been growing
for two years with just rain and snow.

To help you get started, here is a list of terms and phrases that you can search online and at your local library:
  • Waterwise
  • Permaculture
  • Drip irrigation
  • Swale
  • Utah Native Plants
  • Xeriscape
    If you need some extra help feel free to contact me at

    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Water Conservation or Moneyscaping?

    This an "improved" water conserving landscape.

    On a study day at one of the local water conservation garden I found this great example of how you can save water in your yard. Or is it?

    The above photo has this great concrete patio with a matching bench/amphitheater, a built in BBQ (off camera)

    This is the "standard" water wasting yard.

    It is clear that the first picture requires less water, but only because it does not have the same amount of turf. The tree and shrub selections are not that much better than those of the standard landscape. The concrete pad is not intended to gather water for any of the plants, so really, its only function for water conservation is to reduce the amount of grass.

    What bothers me most is that the water conserving garden is obviously designed and a huge amount of money was spent to install it, while the normal landscape is a mockery of what a home owner might put in themselves.

    People are not going to be inspired to save water if it feels like it is beyond them financially. They are not going to save water if they feel the only way to do it is to hire a designer. (Although if they do, I would like to be at the top of their list!) 

    And people are not going to save water if their efforts are going to be treated as if they are stupid. This display needs to be redone with respect to the real needs instead of it being a landscape architect's resume building dream.

    Time for us all to get back to the real world!