Xeriscape Gardens

Monday, May 2nd, 2016 at 4:49pm.

Southwestern plants

Source: City of Albuquerque & ABCWUA

During the hot summer months, more than 70% of all water use in many New Mexico cities goes toward landscaping. Billions of gallons of precious water are applied to plants that, quite frankly, were never intended to grow in our climate. To maintain our wonderful quality of life in the desert Southwest and to ensure adequate future supplies, we need to reduce our outdoor water use. Adopting the water-wise principles of xeriscaping is one way to meet that goal.

By choosing xeric plants for your landscape, you can create a water-wise xeriscape that will add beauty to your home— and help preserve New Mexico’s enchanting quality of life.

Click here to download CABQ’s “The Complete How To Guide to Xeriscaping” (PDF)

ABCWUA Xeriscape Programs

Water Authority customers may qualify for rebates for the replacement of high-water-use landscaping with xeriscaping. A Water Authority inspector must approve your rebate application and your landscape plan ahead of time and the project itself after completion. Xeriscapes employing drip irrigation can qualify for a $.75-per-square-foot rebate; rainwater harvesting xeriscapes can qualify for $1.50 per square foot. Participants in the xeriscape rebate program can also earn a 25-percent rebate (up to $100) for compost, and a 25-percent rebate (up to $50) for rental of sod removal equipment. The rebate area of your new xeriscape must have 50 percent coverage (at maturity) of qualifying low- to medium-water-use plants, and the soil between and beneath all plants must be covered with at least two inches of mulch (gravel, decorative bark, etc.).

Plant Lists

The Albuquerque Plant List includes hundreds of plants suited to central New Mexico, but many are adaptable elsewhere in the state. We strongly recommend that you consult additional references for more detailed information, and check your neighborhood’s landscape covenants, before you design your landscape.

The City of Albuquerque has a pollen control ordinance that prohibits the planting of cypress, mulberry and elm trees. Juniper is limited to female plants only, and Populus varieties are prohibited (except for Rio Grande cottonwood, lanceleaf cottonwood and quaking aspen).

Click here for the Albuquerque Xeriscape Plant List

Rebate Requirements

Your landscape irrigation water must be provided by the Water Authority.

Any landscape removed must be designated as high water use on the Albuquerque Plant List. A Water Authority Inspector must approve you application before you proceed. Pre-existing low water use landscapes are not eligible.

Select landscaping plants from the Water Utility's "How To Guide to Xeriscaping".

Fifty percent of the project rebate area must be covered by plants, as they will appear at maturity--not at installation. You select the qualifying plants from the list provided by the Water Authority and claim the mature plant area noted on the approved plant list. Existing plants may be incorporated into the design and contribute to coverage, provided they are on the approved plant list. The Water Authority recognizes the importance of trees by assigning a fixed groundcover value to approved trees.

Spray irrigation is not permitted in the rebate area. You may hand water or use drip, soaker or bubbler irrigation systems. If you hand water, plants must be one gallon or larger container stock. Areas watered with sprinklers, including micro-sprinklers, will not disqualify your project, but will be excluded from the rebate calculation. Existing sprinklers may be converted to a drip system. All irrigation systems must have an approved backflow prevention device.

You must cover the soil between and beneath the plants with a minimum 2 inches of mulch (3 to 4 inches is recommended). Common mulches are gravel or decorative bark, but other materials may qualify. Impervious plastic is not permitted, unless it is part of a water harvesting design.

You will receive a water bill credit of $1.00 for every square foot of qualifying landscape. You must convert a minimum of 500 square feet to participate.

More Xeriscaping Information

The Rainwater Harvesting Landscape Rebate

The rebate amount has increased to $1.50 per square foot. Plant coverage must still be 50%, but all of the plants must be from the low water use designation on the Rainwater Harvest Plant List. These plants are native or xeric adapted to live on the 8 inches of natural rainfall that occurs in Albuquerque. A rainwater collection or direction system must also be a part of the plan, which must be approved by the Water Utility's Xeriscape Inspector. In order to allow for root establishment and development, supplemental irrigation is allowed for a two-year period for shrubs and grasses, and a three-year period for trees.

Click here to learn more about Rainwater Harvesting Landscaping. (link to NMHS article)

Rainwater Harvest Plant List

X2 Plan

Commercial account holders who replace turf in small areas (10 feet or less in any dimension) or on steep slopes (at least 6:1) can qualify for a rebate of $1.50 per square foot under the X2 plan. Call 768-3655 for more information.

Steps to Obtain Rebate:

  1. Develop a Plan
    Print the Xeriscape Rebate Application Form (1.2MB PDF) , Use the approved plant list to select plants. Draw a simple diagram on the form (see example). List each plant to be used on the form. Use the numbered lines from your list to identify the plants on your landscape drawing.
  2. Call 505-289-3042
    to have a Water Authority Inspector visit you at the property to review your application and to see the existing landscape. When your application has been approved, you may begin your project. Funding will be reserved for the anticipated amount of your rebate.
  3. Proceed with your project.
    You have six months after your application is approved to complete your project. You may apply for a project extension if rebate funds are still available.
  4. Call 505-289-3042
    to arrange for a final inspection. Following final approval, the Water Authority will apply the rebate credit to your water bill.