It's not easy being green; Amarillo turns to xeriscaping

As one of Amarillo's top water-users, the City of Amarillo is taking more steps to conserve. It's using methods like xeriscaping and new irrigation technologies in several spots around town.

"We're going to do fewer annual beds and put it more permanent perennial beds with focus on xeriscaping," explains the City's Parks and Recreation Director, Larry Offerdahl. "Particularly, we're looking at some demonstration beds. We've got four in the city right now."

You can find examples of xeriscaping in Amarillo at City Hall, Martin Road, John Stiff Park and at the Zoo's new entrance. Those efforts are part of an ongoing water conservation program the City has had in place for years. Offerdaghl said that plan has saved Amarillo about 1.6 billion gallons of water over the last ten years.

"Some of our new projects, we'll be putting a stronger focus on water conservation, xeriscaping and so we're going to be looking at those areas but we see we could probably save even more water in our future by embracing these new technologies," added Offerdahl.

Some folks have already taken to the xeriscaping in their own personal lawns, like long-time Amarillo resident Larry Heimsoth.

"I've lived here 30 years," said Heimsoth. "All these century plants were here in the yard when I bought the house. I've added some yucca plants. They don't require much water, I've never watered the century plants and I've never watered the yucca plants."

Heimsoth said helping conserve water through his landscaping was great and the low-cost/low-maintenance benefits of the southwest landscaping style was just an added bonus.

"It's cost effective, it's simple to keep and I like it," he added.

The City of Amarillo hopes to offer classes and workshops on xeriscaping and other lawn water conservation methods for the public in the future. Many local landscaping companies already cater to folks who want to incorporate xeriscaping in their own yards, like Color Me Green, who said it's also a more affordable option for people who can't afford to keep their lawn as green as they would like it.

"People are still interested in making their grass green," said owner of Color Me Green Jamal Wimberly. "If they cannot afford to do so, then yes, xeriscaping is a great option. It's a low maintenance option, it's a low irrigation type of water system."

But although the City wants to move in the direction of using xeriscaping to conserve water, Wimberly feels it won't be a trend that many residents catch on to.

"Amarilloans, we love our grass, we love of yards, we love our lawns, we love our properties," said Wimberly. "Now, commercially I can understand. Those are big water bills, a lot of funds are allocated to maintaining lawns."

Turns out, it really isn't easy being green.