Congrats to the ten winners of our first annual Water Authority Desert Friendly Landscape Contest! Thank you for sharing your beautiful gardens with us. They will be an inspiration for others to make the switch to desert-friendly landscapes.

A transformation from an unhealthy-looking, high-water use turfscape to a colorful xeriscape medley.


This family was ready to change out their high-water and high-maintenance front lawn grass to a desert-friendly landscape. Their new low-water and low-maintenance yard features 94 desert-friendly xeriscape plants. They worked with a professional company on the design, to remove the sod and to install the drip system and new plants. Plants were selected from the Xeriscape Guide provided by their contractor.


By transforming their yard to a xeriscape, they were able to save a total of 156,000 gallons of water within the first year and get a $1,300 rebate from the Water Authority for the conversion. They saved even more money because the contractor was able to reuse existing irrigation valves to convert the spray to a drip system. The best part, they say is “the variety of colors from the plants and the birds and butterflies the landscape attracts”. They also receive many compliments from neighbors and friends, which makes them feel proud.


Talk about creating a diverse and lush yard! This desert-friendly landscape has all the right elements.

As a retired landscape architect Richard Bumstead had the pleasure of designing and installing his own landscape during the beginning of the pandemic. Like many Albuquerque yards, his front yard located in the center of the city was covered with junipers and gravel. Removing them opened up a large area, creating a blank slate and the opportunity to diversify his landscape. Having spent most of his career in Chicago, Richard was not very familiar with the local plants. He read many New Mexico plant books, including Judith Phillips, “Growing the Southwest Garden” and the “Down to Earth” guide from Albuquerque Master Gardeners. The staff at Plants of the Southwest and Jericho were also a big help as he prepared his landscape plan. His visible front yard is now full of native pollinator plants along with three trees that are local favorites: Pinon Pine, Desert Willow and New Mexico Locust.

Richard waters his established plants once a month in the winter and only once a week during the irrigation season. He says the key to having a good-looking landscape is to prepare the soil and water plants to the right depth.

Since he has a more protected backyard, Richard was able to add many shade-loving plants as well as foraging plants like strawberries, rhubarb, tomatoes, an apricot tree and a variety of herbs. Find his extensive plant list here.

After: Close up of Fleabane Daisy, with Grey Desert Spoon and Silver Mound artemisia in the background.
After: Close up of Purple Flax

From Bermuda Grassland to a Desert Friendly Landscape!

Geri Martinez’s property, which is located in one of the older areas of town surrounded by large established trees, had the kind of yard that’s typically found in Albuquerque’s UNM and Ridgecrest neighborhoods. It was covered in Bermuda grass and had a large mulberry tree. Geri was ready to refresh the front yard of her 60+ year-old home. With the help of a landscape designer, she came up with a planting design plan.


Geri, an avid DIY’er, installed her own plants and irrigation system. To help her figure out what to plant and how to set up the irrigation system, she read local publications from nurseries, attended workshops and used a professional landscape design to determine plants locations. 

Geri loves sitting outside and watching the birds and bees that are attracted to her landscape. Saving water has been her goal. She’s not only reduced her front yard water use but also the amount of water she uses indoors. She has low-flow fixtures inside the home and utilizes rain barrels to supplement her landscape’s irrigation during the rainy season. Geri is proud to have a visually-appealing landscape that conserves water.

After: Close up of Dianthus

Learn more by reading these articles:

Make this the year that you replace your thirsty lawn with a desert-friendly xeriscape.

WA Customers list the “Top Reasons to Convert a Lawn to a Desert-Friendly Xeriscape”

Desert Friendly Xeriscape Conversion Rebates

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