Waterwise in Central Oregon

Waterwise in Central Oregon header image
Waterwise in Central Oregon
Landscapes for an arid country

Like a thirsty juniper growing on Oregon’s high desert, Bend needs water. So do Redmond and Madras, Prineville and Sisters, Warm Springs and La Pine. Growth in central Oregon is changing the face of its people, the landscape, and water resource management.

Deschutes County is one of the fastest growing counties in the nation. The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis projects its population will top 197,000 by 2020—a 40 percent increase from today.

“One of the key issues for us is how to plan for this rapid growth,” said Patrick Griffiths, water resources coordinator for the City of Bend. “You can spend a lot of money on pipes and pumps and people and trucks, but if you don’t have to spend it on that, the money can go to some other public good in the community.”

Xeriscaping. Photo by Steve Dodrill

Xeriscaping in the high desert beautifies the urban landscape while it scrimps on water use. Photo: Steve Dodrill

Conservation is high on Griffith’s list of planning efforts. He estimated nearly 60 percent of Bend’s residential water consumption is being used to irrigate landscapes. That is why he and Amy Jo Detweiler, associate professor of horticulture with the Oregon State University Extension Service, teamed up to produce “Xeriscaping in the High Desert.” The guide presents a seven-step process that covers landscape planning and design, plant placement, soil amendments, efficient irrigation, turf and turf alternatives, mulching, and landscape maintenance.

“We needed a pictorial plant guide to help people see the colors and textures and variety they can have and still be using water-wise plants that are appropriate for this area,” said Detweiler. “There are hundreds of plants that can be used in a xeriscape.”

Several Bend-area homeowners’ associations have adopted the guide since its release in 2005, according to Detweiler, and it has become an important training tool in classes for landscape contractors.

Xeriscaping in the High Desert (7.7 MB pdf download)