Public perception in determining water management in water conserving landscapes
Implementing xeriscape principles can save a hmeowner an estimated 0 to 80% of the water used in the landscape. However, limited research has evaluated public opinion of the performance of plants grown in xeriscapes. A survey instrument was designed to determine public opinion of the performance of five Texas native plant species grown at Lubbock, TX under 30, 60 and 90% of reference evapotranspiration (ETQ). Four hundred ten experience stratified survey participants rated plant performance once a month during a twenty-week survey period in the summer of 1999, Soil moisture levels between treatments differed only in three of the twenty test weeks. Consequently, no significant differences in the rated performance or height of plants were detected at the different irrigation levels. This research has documented public opinion as it relates to xeriscapes and found that xeriscapes irrigated with less than one-third of the ETo were able to maintain the same level of public acceptance as those irrigated with 90% of the ETQ. Public acceptance of xeriscaping will grow as homeowners become more confident in the beauty and utility of water conserving alternative landscapes. Public gardens and horticulture institutions could use projects such as this to demonstrate how appropriately designed xeriscapes reduce landscape water consumption, and maintain plants that are acceptable to the public.