E-Publications & Resources » Articles and Lectures on Landscape Design » Material on Water-Conserving Landscapes » Creating Landscapes in Water-Scarce Environments » Creating Landscape in Water-Scarce Environments 9
Prepared by Mohammad Al-Asad and Majd Musa in association with Margaret Livingston, 2001
Livingston believes that more sustainable landscaping solutions should be sought in Tucson, and this can be achieved when input equals output: where not too much is being consumed in terms of natural resources. One can follow four guidelines to reach this goal. The first is to try to select and use plants from the existing native ecosystem. Many people get confused and think that because a certain plant is an Arizona native, they can use it in Tucson. However, one should be aware that the area near Tucson has various elevations, and therefore one cannot use a plant that grows naturally at an elevation of 2000 meters - such as native oaks (Quercus spp.) - in Tucson, where the elevation is 900 meters. This is the reason why it is necessary to educate the inhabitants of Tucson about the kind of plants that grow in and around the city. Also, whenever introducing exotic plants, one should always think about the effects that the introduction of such plants would have on the natural ecosystem. The aim always should be to enhance the existing ecosystem rather than to modify it.
The second point Livingston made in the context of sustainable landscapes is the need to increase the use of water harvesting. The third point is to increase energy conservation. This point includes the conservation of energy used for mowers, weed-eaters, and leaf-blowers. Here, it should be kept in mind that low-maintenance plants use less energy. The last point that Livingston made concerning the issue of sustainable landscape is that of recycling local materials. She presented examples such as the use of broken concrete to provide a mosaic-like walking area, the use of the soil of the site to build a wall, and the use of rocks that originally were present on site in paving a driveway. Such examples help the public to understand, visualize, and sympathize with the concept of recycled materials.
Livingston ended her presentation by showing a small-scale recycling project that took place in her neighborhood in Tucson (figure 19). The project, which includes the construction of a traffic circle, was an example of active community involvement. Site preparation and concrete paving were made by a neighborhood resident who owns a construction business. A nursery donated native plants. Also, recycled bicycles were used to mount the reflectors that keep people from driving through the traffic circle. This example shows how everyone can have a part in producing a more sustainable landscape, even on a very small scale.