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A colorful perennial garden blooms in the parkstrip, between the sidewalk and the road, of a neighborhood in Utah

Waterwise Parkstrip Planting In Utah Inspired By Soft Colors

Our tagline may be that Sustainability Begins In Your Backyard - but it doesn’t stop there! Our customer Chelsea has created an absolutely stunning park strip garden at her home in Spanish Forks, Utah, with inspiration from a popular High Country Gardens Pre-Planned Garden. While this was her first perennial planting, she did not hold back on creating a well-designed, large-scale planting – and it’s not hard to see that she’s discovered a talent and a passion. 

We interviewed her to learn more about her process. Learn more about how she brought her garden to life with her family – and shop her plant list, too!

Q: What inspired you to plant a waterwise lawn or garden?

Chelsea: We have a really large front yard and live right by a large park so we did not feel like grass was a need for us. With a western exposure in a hot climate, we wanted tough, beautiful plants that would thrive with minimal effort and water. 

We have made a low-maintenance but high-impact pollinator garden that we love! We feel like our pollinator garden (and food garden) is a much better utilization of our landscape than turf. Besides, flowers are much more fun to plant than grass is to mow. 

There is also a movement in Utah called Localscapes. They encourage waterwise plantings, utilizing landscaping effectively, and watering efficiently. They offer free resources on how to install drip, help with landscaping, and a variety of other resources! 


Q: Was this your first time creating a lawn or garden like this, or do you have past experience gardening?

This was my very first time putting in any kind of flower bed whatsoever! My then 3-year-old actually helped with the layout. We would talk about the plants that were already planted, what plant we had to plant, and what colors and heights they were. 

This transitioned to an absolute love of gardening for both me and my son! I grew up with a dad who gardened and actually put a xeriscape in his front yard over 20 years ago, but I never really took an interest in it until my husband and I bought our house. 

It has turned into such a passion for me. It has been a wonderful outlet. It has become something that I absolutely love and I am working on becoming a landscape designer after a lot of encouragement from friends.


Q: What are your favorite plants?

Chelsea: It honestly depends on what I am after. I love drought-tolerant plants. I think that there are so many and they can be used in such fun ways. My backyard has a mix of food-producing plants and flowers - ALL the Echinacea, lots of roses. I use strawberry plants as ground cover in my backyard and any kids visiting my yard go on strawberry hunts!

  • Right now I am really liking Zauschneria! I have a Woody’s Peach that is looking fabulous and I have plans to add a few more.
  • I LOVE Ornamental Oregano and how it spreads.  I really like how it looks planted by upright Sedum.
  • Mojave Sage is always a winner!
  • Desert Willows (Chilopsis) should be planted way more often!
  • Palmer’s Penstemon is incredible in the spring!
  • I recently added a few Echinaceas to my hellstrip with plans to add a few more soon!
  • Hummingbird mint (Agastache) is a bit challenging here, but I absolutely love it! We have three hummingbirds that call our yard home. My boys have named them all Josh. We are big fans of anything that brings the hummingbirds!
  • Gaura is another plant that needs mention. It is the first plant the bees visit in my yard and it is covered in flowers all summer long with minimal water. The one by my Mojave Sage is over 5 ft tall. This one is a bit tall for a park strip, but it's such an airy plant and doesn’t block any views.


Shop Chelsea's Plant List

Q: Tell us about your process – How did you plant and what did you do to prepare for planting?

Chelsea: We moved into a new build with brand new grass, so it was pretty easy to move the grass. We actually had enough grass for our backyard and our neighbor's backyard.

We live in a high-wind area that blows mulch out of flower beds so we decided on rock for our front yard. We have a front yard xeriscape, and because our lot is shaped like a trapezoid, we have our food garden in the front yard, as well as a mini orchard that I keep pruned.

Our hellstrip stayed as just rock and a few other lonely plants for about 2 years, as I had no idea what I wanted to do and we figured out other parts of our yard. Finally, one day, I was looking on Pinterest and found a pin with the Soft Colors Pre Planned Garden from High Country Gardens. I took that picture and used it as a reference, I used some plants from that list and then I added others as I thought they worked with my color scheme. Some I just think are cool plants. 

My then 3-year-old and I did the bulk of the planting in 2019. I am slowly adjusting it every year as some things die or don’t do well with the heat and limited water that I give them. 

Q: Do you have any tips for other waterwise gardeners?

Chelsea: I love that you use the term waterwise! For whatever reason people have a really negative reaction when you use the term xeric or xeriscape. They think rocks and a few plants maybe. You can have a thriving and colorful oasis and still be waterwise! 

Throw away any preconceived notions of what drought tolerance has to look like and just have fun! I love the English Cottage garden look and it can be done with waterwise plants. 

I think that the most important thing is to have fun with it! Play with colors, heights, textures, etc. You do not have to do a lot of repetition of the same plants, just a few of the same will give you the cohesion that you need.

Q: What do you do to maintain your planting?

Chelsea: I do have drip irrigation in my park strip! I use one-gph drip emitters on spaghetti lines with ¼ inch tubing. Since I add more plants to this strip all the time, it makes it easy to plant them and add drip. 

I did have compost in my park strip for planting, and I add a little more every Fall. 

I cut the plants back in the spring. There are a few plants that will straight up die if I cut them back in the Fall (such as Agastache). 

Every spring I pull the rocks back from the plant base a little bit more to allow for the plants to grow.

Inspired By This Beautiful Waterwise Garden? Shop Chelsea's Plant List