Sun Valley, Idaho landscape ecologist Kelly Weston likes to make clear native landscapes don’t have to be messy. “I have native landscapes that are highly structured next to very contemporary houses. I have native landscapes like this one that are planted in a random fashion, meant to be wild-looking”.
Working in the resort town area of Sun Valley, Idaho (with homes of the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Tom Hanks and Demi Moore), Weston has to compete with a golf-course aesthetic, but tighter water restrictions in the area has helped business.
Weston of Native Landscapes, Inc. practices xeriscaping- “xeros” in Greek means “dry”- aka water-conserving landscapes, drought-tolerant landscaping, zeroscaping, and smart scaping. He follows standard xeriscaping principles which include:
- Building up the soil with mulch and compost/
- Designing the yard according to water needs so nothing is over-watered. Different zones are watered differently.
- Using native plants when possible and when more variety is desired, using plants that are adapted to the same water regime.
- Using appropriate turf. Not only limiting the amount of grass, but using native grasses like fescue, blue grama and buffalo grass.
While a native yard may take more foresight than simply laying down sod, Weston assures that once the yard has matured- usually within 3 or 4 years- it not only using dramatically less water, but requires much less maintenance than a turf landscape.
In this video, Weston shows us a LEED-certified landscape (next to a LEED home) in Ketchum, Idaho where annual rainfall is about 15 inches per year.