Homeowners looking for ideas on how to landscape their homes that are beautiful and water-smart can find new inspiration at University of Nevada, Reno Extension’s Botanic Gardens. Extension recently added three charming miniature houses to the gardens to showcase how to create attractive landscapes that require only minimal water use.
The new additions, collectively dubbed the Three Landscapes Demonstration, offer three different themes, including year-round color, edible landscapes and xeriscape. The year-round color landscape is designed to have at least one plant in bloom throughout the year. The edible landscape features plants that all have some edible part or derivative, mostly fruit trees and herbs, though it also features tequila agaves. The xeriscape consists mostly of cacti, yuccas and other extreme drought-tolerant plants.
“We wanted to show locals that their yards can include more than just rocks while still being sensitive to the water conservation efforts that our desert climate warrants,” said Lauren McGue, manager of Extension’s Botanic Gardens. “We hope to set a good example for homeowners, landscapers, hobby gardeners, HOA board members, policymakers and more with these landscapes.”
The idea for this demonstration has been a long time in the making. Six years ago, Extension Specialists ML Robinson and Angela O’Callaghan had an idea to create a feature showing the public three distinct approaches to residential landscaping specifically for the southern Nevada climate. In 2021, McGue began designing the landscapes. Once the concepts were finalized, she managed the project from start to finish. Par 3 Landscape Management was hired to install the landscapes. Some plants came from Extension’s plant holding area, with the rest procured by Par 3. Installation began this spring and was completed in June.
“It’s great to see this project come to fruition,” Robinson said. “They really provide some insight on what you can do with a landscape while still being water conscious. As the landscapes mature and fill in, I think residents will really be inspired to make some changes to their own yards.”
While some of the plants may be switched out in years to come, the themes of each landscape will remain the same. The Three Landscape Demonstration is a permanent installation in the Demonstration and Test Gardens area of the Botanic Gardens, located at the Extension office at 8050 Paradise Road in Las Vegas. The gardens are open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.