April 22, 2004: Environmental Management Held a Ribbon-Cutting to Celebrate the Opening of its Newly-Completed, 5,000 Square-Foot Desert Landscaping Project

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Environmental Management held a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of its newly-completed, 5,000 square-foot desert landscaping project outside building 2650A, on the corner of Rosamond Boulevard and Popson Avenue. The project used water-efficient landscaping techniques called xeriscaping, a trademarked term created by a nonprofit group in the 1980s to promote landscape water conservation. In May 2004, the project garnered for Edwards AFB the champion of Green Government Award from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “to acknowledge individuals and groups of federal agencies outside the EPA who are going above and beyond the call of duty in working to improve the environment and protect our natural resources.”

Xeriscaping is the practice of designing landscapes to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation. This means xeriscaped landscapes need little or no water beyond what the natural climate provides.  Xeriscaping has been embraced in dry regions of the western United States.  Prolonged droughts have led water to be regarded as a limited and expensive resource.  Denver, Colorado, was one of the first urban areas to support xeriscaping.  That city's water department encouraged residents to use less of the city's drinkable water for their lawns and gardens.  Xeriscaping has become widely popular in some areas because of its environmental and financial benefits.  The most important environmental aspect of xeriscaping is choosing vegetation that is appropriate for the climate.  Vegetation that thrives with little added irrigation is called drought-tolerant vegetation.  Xeriscaping often means replacing grassy lawns with soil, rocks, mulch, and drought-tolerant native plant species.  Trees such as myrtles and flowers such as daffodils are drought-tolerant plants.  Plants that have especially adapted to arid climates are called xerophytes.  In desert areas like Phoenix, Arizona, xeriscaping allows gardeners to plant native xerophytes such as ocotillo.  Supporters of xeriscaping say it can reduce water use by 50 or 75 percent.  This saves water and money.  In Novato, California, residents were offered conservation incentives (reductions in their water bills) to convert from traditional lawns to xeriscaping.  The city's water department estimated that the houses that chose xeriscaping saved 120 gallons of water a day.  Another main component of xeriscaping is installing efficient irrigation methods.  Drips and soaker hoses direct water directly to the base of the plant and prevent the water evaporation that sprinklers allow.  More efficient irrigation is also achieved when types of plants with similar water needs are grouped together.  A xeriscaped landscape needs less maintenance than an area landscaped with grass and water-intensive plants.

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