As the Peccole Ranch Community Association (PRCA) began converting thirsty grass to water-efficient landscapes more than a decade ago, different areas within the community—flood channels, paseos, and greenbelts—began to harmonize like a symphony.
“Instead of just pulling the grass off the walls, careful thought was given, within the restrictions of the 100-year flood parameters, to make a walk through the paseos like a musical score that draws you in,” said Richard Layton, President of the PRCA board of directors. “As you turn a corner your eyes may be drawn to a new colorful planting in the distance. Then as you arrive there, a new magical display of vegetation floats into view around the next bend in the path.”
Since 2005, the PRCA has made beautiful landscape music by taking part in the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s (SNWA) Water Smart Landscapes Rebate program (WSL), converting nearly 350,000 square feet of grass to more water-efficient landscaping in several phases since 2005—with more common area conversions planned for this year and throughout the next decade.
The conversions also have paid off with impressive water savings. From 2016—the community’s baseline year—to 2018, Peccole Ranch’s water use declined by 18 percent.
“Being good stewards for the community and wanting to look at the landscaping long term with the drought in mind, the PRCA Board of Directors decided to take advantage of the WSL program incentives and do their part for the Vegas Valley,” said PRCA Vice President Maryann Goodsell. “The members of the Landscape Committee have refined the design concepts, so the areas converted are tastefully done, adding more xeriscape while still maintaining functional grass areas that have attracted people to make their home in Peccole Ranch. Just because you’re going ‘water smart’ doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice design. There are many plants that present a lush look to the landscape and take very little water.”
In conjunction with the landscape conversions, the PRCA in summer 2017 also took advantage of SNWA rebates by installing smart irrigation controllers, which automatically adjust watering schedules based on weather conditions.
Despite initial concerns aired by some residents about certain aspects of the conversions—notably design concepts for areas within the flood channels, paseos, and greenbelts—most residents changed their tunes when they saw the completed projects.
“Our landscapers have played a very essential role in alleviating those fears through the recommendation of species that are drought tolerant as well as identifying watering methods,” said Director Ron Reinschmidt, “such as laser tubing throughout the root zones of trees, and deep root feeding and watering tubes for new trees.”
Director Bob Winn also credited SNWA Conservation Programs Coordinator Hillery Francis for ushering the projects along with prompt pre-conversion measurements and quick responses to requests for follow-up re-inspections.
Among the lessons the PRCA learned in the process was the importance of installing smart controllers in a timely manner to ensure plant health, and engaging residents for their feedback on design concepts. He also suggested other community associations in Southern Nevada considering a landscape conversion under the WSL program initially should target ornamental grass at entrances and in low-impact streetscape areas.
“There are some requirements such as at least 400 square feet of turf or more to be converted is needed to qualify for the rebate,” said Director Katherine Barker. “That being said, if you convert a whole area in these spaces, like entries and non-functional streetscape turf, the you should still qualify for the rebate.”
Meanwhile, Peccole Ranch works with its residents interested in converting their private landscapes, many of whom have started projects based on the community association’s experience and the stunning results.
According to PRCA Board President Layton, “The Design Review Committee always has one or two turf conversion plans to analyze each month, and as the weather gets better, we expect to see more, especially with the generous rebates that are now being offered.”
Through the WSL program, the SNWA will rebate $3 per square foot of grass removed and replaced with desert landscaping up to the first 10,000 square feet converted per property, per year. Beyond the first 10,000 feet, the Water Authority will provide a rebate of $1.50 per square foot. The maximum award for any property in a fiscal year is $500,000.
For more information about WSL, visit snwa.com, or contact Hillery Francis at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 691-5201.