Balancing Landscape Preferences and Water Conservation in a Desert Community

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, New Mexico State University, Box 30003, Las Cruces, NM 88003.
  • | 2 Agricultural Biometric Service, New Mexico State University, Box 30003, Las Cruces, NM 88003.
  • | 3 Horticulture, New Mexico State University, Box 30003, Las Cruces, NM 88003.

We surveyed homeowners with residential landscapes in Las Cruces, N.M., to determine design features participants valued in their landscapes, their attitudes toward the landscape use of desert plants and opinions on factors that would encourage respondents to reduce landscape water use. We also determined whether the willingness to use desert plants in their landscapes related to the length of residency in the southwestern United States. At least 98% of respondents landscaped to enhance the appearance of their home and increase their property value. About half (50.6%) of the participants strongly agreed or agreed that the main reason to landscape was to display their landscape preferences. Many participants indicated they would use desert plants to landscape their front yard (80.3%) and back yard (56.3%), but relatively lower percentages of participants actually had desert landscapes in their front yard and back yard. Regardless of their property value, respondents were more likely to use desert plants in their backyard the shorter their stay in the desert. Data revealed that participants rank water shortages as the factor that would most likely cause them to reduce the amount of water they applied to their landscapes. We conclude that homeowners report willingness to use desert plants but desert-type landscapes are not a widespread feature of managed residential landscapes. Furthermore, water shortages and the length of time respondents spent in a desert environment would most likely influence water use in their landscapes.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author; rsthilai@nmsu.edu.
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