286 Plant Life Form Frequency, Diversity, and Irrigation Application in Urban Residential Landscapes

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  • 1 Department of Plant Biology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1601

Heightened awareness of ecological concerns have prompted many municipalities to promote water conservation through landscape design. In central Arizona, urban residential landscapes containing desert-adapted plant species are termed xeriscapes, while those containing temperate or tropical species and turf are termed mesoscapes. Research was conducted to ascertain landscape plant species diversity, tree, shrub, and ground cover frequency; landscape canopy area coverage; and monthly irrigation application volumes for xeric and mesic urban residential landscapes. The residential urban landscapes were located in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., and all were installed initially between 1985 and 1995. Although species composition of xeric and mesic landscapes was generally dissimilar, both landscape types had comparable species diversity. Mesoscapes had significantly more trees and shrubs and about 2.3 times more canopy area coverage per landscaped area than xeriscapes. Monthly irrigation application volumes per landscaped surface area were higher for xeriscapes. Even though human preference for xeric landscape plants may be ecological in principle, use of desert-adapted species in central Arizona urban residential landscape settings might not result in less landscape water use compared with mesic landscapes.

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