Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Landscaping the suburban desert: A visit to Peoria, Arizona

Over Memorial Day weekend, I had occasion to visit Phoenix.  I took some time to tour that booming western fringe of Phoenix where armies of bulldozers plough over saguaro cacti to build the next town of subdivisions.  It's hard not to feel a pang for the loss of the desert; consider that a given.  

I was surprised, however, to see the landscaping of subdivisions in these new desert communities, which use almost no grass.  I found myself pulling up their planning code sections on landscaping this morning, and they are not a bad example for how the American lawn can be re-envisioned.

Take, for instance, Peoria, Arizona, which among its landscaping regulations, limits "turf," or the great American lawn, to just 20 percent of the lot area.  14-35-4(B)(2).  Or, consider Peoria's requirements for re-landscaping with native plants, which are illustrated by this image:

Pages from 14_35_LandscapeRequirements(2)14-35-4(A)(2)(d).  For those interested in landscaping and new ways to conceptualize the American lawn, places like Peoria and other western Phoenix communities will provide some starting points. 

Stephen R. Miller


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