Cost Benefit Analysis and Qualitative Study

Xeriscape is a method of landscaping, originally developed for drought affected areas, where water conservation and unique aesthetics are a major influence to promote its installation.

There are 7 main principles behind the motivation and proper installation of a true Xeriscape landscape:

  1. Water conservation
  2. Soil improvement
  3. Limited turf areas
  4. Appropriate plants
  5. Mulch
  6. Irrigation
  7. Maintenance.

Each of the 7 principles helps to create a low impact, environmentally friendly landscape.

Water conservation is of growing importance in areas like Lethbridge, where in years like 2011 and 2012, low snowpack and runoff springs in addition with low precipitation summer months creates water stresses and limitations throughout the year. Maintaining the environmental integrity of the watershed is the main concern of the Oldman Watershed Council (OWC).

The objectives of this study are to develop a cost benefit analysis of converting from traditional lawn, to a Xeriscape landscape for City of Lethbridge residents in Lethbridge Alberta. A survey was conducted among selected residents with visible Xeriscape aspects to their gardens. Participants were chosen from a list of residents previously involved with the Prairie Urban Garden Tour, where a series of questions asked will give insight to the cost and maintenance as well as overall feeling about their Xeriscaped garden. Water meter history was obtained from City of Lethbridge archives from subjects willing to provide permission; with this information we are able to use water meter data prior to the conversion to conduct a cost analysis and comparison to after the conversion.