A water-wise garden that includes edibles will be part of this year’s Healthy Garden Tour presented by Recycle Utah. (Linda Karz)
A water-wise garden that includes edibles will be part of this year's Healthy Garden Tour presented by Recycle Utah. (Linda Karz)
During the summer months, many water bills skyrocket because of the desire to keep yards green. But that doesn't have to be the case.

That's one of the reasons Recycle Utah hosts a healthy garden tour that features an array of water-wise or xeriscaped gardens in the area.

This year's tour will be held on Saturday, June 28. The tour will run from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and anyone who wants to go on the tour can pick up a map at Recycle Utah, 1951 Woodbine Way, beginning at 9:30 a.m., said Linda Karz, a volunteer at Recycle Utah.

"This is something we have done a few times in conjunction with our native plant sale that was held a couple of weeks ago," Karz said during an interview with The Park Record. "We haven't really done one for a few years, so we decided it was time to bring it back."

The tour will focus on water conservation and there will be between 8 and 10 gardens on the tour.

"We will feature all different types of gardens that are located in private homes and businesses," Karz explained. "We have gardens all over the area, including one at Victory Ranch."

Not two gardens on the tour will be the same, she said.

"We'll feature some that are professionally landscaped and some that have been done by the homeowner or business owner," Karz said. "Some gardens have a lot of edibles in them, but still maintain the low-water use, which is really exciting because it shows that you can still have edibles, even though they take more water.


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Incorporating edibles into a water-wise garden is a new trend," according to Karz.

"There is a neat combination and ties in with sustainability," she said.

The tour will also spotlight rock gardens and other types of xeriscaping.

"It's a self-guided tour, but the homeowner or the landscaper's representative will be on site to answer questions," Karz said.

Another of the gardens will be at the Swaner EcoCenter.

"They have several spots around the center that have been landscaped with different examples of drought-resistant plants," Karz said.

Local gardens, featuring drought-resistant flowering plants, will be among stops for Recycle Utah’s Healthy Garden Tour that will be held Saturday.
Local gardens, featuring drought-resistant flowering plants, will be among stops for Recycle Utah's Healthy Garden Tour that will be held Saturday. (Linda Karz)

The one thing those who are on the tour need to remember is that the private homes aren't open to the public, only their gardens are, she said.

"We talked with some professional landscapers and asked if they had some clients who would like to share their gardens with us," Karz said. "We also knew some gardens that are out there, so we approached those people directly. We're sure there are many others out there, but not everyone wants to be a part of the tour."

One issue the garden tour addresses is the misconception of the word xeriscape.

The concept first emerged in the 1980s — the botanical gardens in Denver were at the heart of it and that's where Karz got a lot of her initial information.

"When the term xeriscape came out, many people thought it was called zeroscape, which was unfortunate," she said. "'Xeri' means 'dry' in Greek and that's where the word came from. So even now, we're not really calling it xeriscaping, but water-wise gardening.

That said, the first xeriscaped garden Karz planted was in Silver Springs in 1990.

"It was so difficult to get plants and materials for it," she said. "I had to do it by seed, because at that time there was no place that sold drought-tolerant plants."

Even the drip systems that are everywhere today were nonexistent and Karz had to install bubblers for each tree.

"It was such a chore," Karz said. "These days, it's much easier to get things together, because the availability of information has just exploded."

The best place for people to start gathering information about water-wise gardening is online.

"There are so many websites out there that are so helpful," Karz said. "The Utah Native Plant Society's website (www.unps.org ) has all kinds of links to help you with what you want to do.

In fact, Karz, who has been planting drought-resistant gardens for nearly 25 years, still likes to learn about new ideas that helps her set up theses gardens.

"Last June, I went to Michigan and landscaped my son's garden," she said. "I don't really plant plants that don't like water, but rather ones that could exist if there was a bad year so the garden wouldn't just kick the bucket."

Saturday's Healthy Garden Tour will also help people understand the different types of plants that can flourish in the area.

"It's about careful planning and knowing to what types of microclimates the plants will be exposed to," Karz said. "In every yard, there are these microclimates and some plants grow better on the east side while others grow better on the south side.

"It's a potpourri and everyone has something different to offer," she said. "It also shows that people don't have to sacrifice their gardens to save water."

The tour is free, but Recycle Utah is glad to accept donations.

"We don't want to preclude anyone from going on the tour because of their financial situations," Karz said.

Recycle Utah's Healthy Garden Tour will be held Saturday, June 28, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Tour maps can be picked up at Recycle Utah, 1951 Woodbine Way, at 9:30 p.m. The tour is self-guided and free. For more information, visit www.recycleutah.org .