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Water Management

2003 Contest Winners

Tohono Chul Park and the Arizona Department of Water Resources recognized the winners of their 2003 Xeriscape Contest at a ceremony at Tohono Chul Park on May 15, 2003.  Awards were given to recognize the work of professionals and property owners who have made innovative and appropriate use of native and low-water-use plants, water harvesting, gray water and efficient irrigation systems.

The main reason for this contest is to increase awareness of innovations in landscaping and water efficiency and to encourage others to utilize these practices to create beautiful landscapes.  The use of Xeriscaping and native plants is an important aspect of desert-appropriate landscaping and promoting water conservation in our community.  Fine examples of these exist throughout the Tucson area.

2003 Community Xeriscape Leader

Carl KominskyCarl Kominsky-2003 Community Xeriscape Leader

For his outstanding leadership in advancing the principles of Xeriscape and water conservation, Carl has been selected to receive the 2003 Community Xeriscape Leader Award.  Carl has worked as a landscape architect in Tucson for nearly 30 years.  In this time, he has unselfishly and tirelessly served as an instructor, mentor and strong proponent of water-efficient irrigation.  He is recognized throughout the Southwest as one of the foremost experts in irrigation. His expertise has been sought out, and generously given, as an instructor at the U of A and Pima Community College as well as on various community committees, helping to establish guidelines and codify principles of efficient water use. Carl has worked extensively with the City of Tucson and Tucson Unified School District to convert irrigation to reclaimed water.  To date 35 schools are currently using reclaimed water, which has resulted in groundwater savings of 1 billion gallons of water annually.  He has extensive experience with City of Tucson parks and roadway projects, Tucson Water planning, feasibility and revegetation projects, ADOT roadway irrigation projects, and large-scale drip and spray irrigation systems using reclaimed water.  Carl is known for designing efficient and manageable systems that conserve water and are responsive to the maintenance needs of the owner. Carl received a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture with Honors and Distinction, from the University of Arizona in 1972.  Followed by graduate studies at the U of A in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering and Irrigation Design in 1993. He is a member of the American Society of Irrigation Consultants. 

Homeowner Category

These entries must be substantially designed and installed by the homeowners themselves. We are honoring a total of three homeowners this year:

stacked rock artwork in gardenFirst Place &“Best Design to Attract Native Wildlife”– Wendy Timm

Described as having a “good eye for what’s nice, surprising and fun,” this design by homeowner Wendy Timms incorporates whimsical details everywhere you look. From the homeowner’s sculptures of friends dancing in her garden to the inexpensive materials used to create welcoming spaces, this landscape truly drew the judges in. It appears that Wendy was able to overcome one of her biggest obstacles (her bad knees and back) to create the environment she wanted, inspired by the Desert Museum, Tucson Botanical Garden and Tohono Chul Park.  Wendy’s use of native plants that create wildlife habitats for birds, lizards and many other small animals won her the “Best Design to Attract Native Wildlife” Award.

"Best Collection of Cacti and Succulents" - Valarie MillerFront yard with native plants'

The designer of this yard says that the landscape evolved rather than being a planned design, with many of the plants starting out in pots. Perhaps this is why the eclectic mix of cacti and succulents look so healthy. Judges noted that the collection of plants were very well maintained and enjoyed the unusual and interesting specimens. The sculptural qualities of the large boojums, senita, Peruvian Apple and many others are so eye-catching, visitors are prone to stop and stare a while. For creating this landscape of great interest, the judges award Valarie Miller the “Best Collection of Cacti and Succulents” award.

Cow's tongue prickly pear and aloe“Special Treatment of a Hillside or Slope”- J.P. Bradley

J.P. created a space that is not only beautiful but appealing to all the senses. The judges commented that he has a nice collection of cacti and succulents, neat, improvised fireplace, rock paths resist erosion, and interesting paths make me want to explore.  The owner and installer of this landscape has been working on it since 1997, planting every inch of it on his own. This may seem just like someone who is just REALLY into his yard. However, what makes this truly extraordinary is that this designer is legally blind! J.P. Bradley says his yard has become his primary hobby, and when you talk with him about his landscape, you can feel his enthusiasm.


"Best Use of Water Harvesting" - Deborah Toslinewater harvesting swale

Deborah did not have any experience in gardening or landscaping prior to taking on her front and back yards. However, the project allowed her design and construct an environment that reflects her love of the Sonoran Desert, her interest in water conservation and her desire to attract wildlife while at the same time enhancing privacy. The judges felt that her design succeeded on all counts, appreciating the hills and channels in the front yard that catch rainfall runoff from the front and backyard and the front roof. This runoff is directed to many native plants, which both attract wildlife and provide screening.

Honorable Mention – Plant Collection, Kimber DeLorenzo

Anyone who talks with this homeowner is immediately aware that she has a passion for her landscape and truly enjoys adding more plants to it and creating more livable outdoor spaces in it. As Kimber DeLorenzo says herself, “A garden is a work in progress. It is ever changing.” For the variety of plant types and her enthusiasm for constant evolution, the judges award an honorable mention in Plant Collection.

2003 Photo Gallery, Homeowner Category

Professional Residential Category


natural looking streambed with native rockFirst Place –Joe Billings, "The Landscaping Artist" for the Colville Residence

Designed to have the look and feel of a lush natural habitat while allowing roof runoff to flow slowly through and in close proximity to planting areas, “The Wonderland of Rocks Habitat Garden” by Joe Billings is the 2003 First Place winner in the Professional Residential category.  Judges were impressed by the fact that every plant was low-water-use with a variety of colors and textures.  They also commented on the many seating areas, creating an intimate space, which also attracts wildlife. 



Second Place & “Best Retrofit of a High Water Using Landscape” - Marla Ruane, Greening Fine Gardens, nice garden area with flagstone edge

for the Schorr Residence

With the primary goal of expanding and updating outdoor living areas, this complete renovation of an El Encanto backyard was highly rated by the judges.  They especially commented on the attention to detail and color.  This effect was partly achieved by removing a portion of the pool decking and replacing it with native and low-water-using plants including Desert Marigold, Peruvian Apple and Knife Acacia.  Garden sculptures were also added to create a whimsical feeling. Marla had to start with was a “very East Coast” landscape with many high-water-use plants, the judges also award her the Award

Nice redesign of backyard includes water harvesting

“Best Water Harvesting in a Small Space” Lesley Mansur for Pomeroy Residence

The water harvesting in the arroyo of this residence caught the judges eyes. The contouring of the arroyo coupled with the mix of colorful xeric and exotic plants didn’t escape their notice, either. It appears that this landscape also attracts the notice of butterflies, birds and other wildlife in addition to being a joy to the homeowners.



Mesquite tree with groundcovers

“Best Use of Natives”, Roberta Braegelmann, Sonoran Gardens, for theLuevano/Trinder Residence

The judges noted the nice mix of cacti, mesquite, greasewood, ocotillo, cholla and prickly pear that enhanced the native desert surroundings in this landscape. Interspersed with hummingbird plants, it was obvious that the goal for this design was to enhance the natural, undisturbed, desert landscape with southwest native plants that offered color and interest.

2003 Photo Gallery, Professional Residential Category

Medians and Rights of Way Category

Dove Mountain medians and ROWsFirst Place - Medians and Rights of Way &“Best Revegetation of a Disturbed Desert”, Greey and Picket of AAA Landscape

Described by the judges as: having a terrific variety of plant materials that harmonize with the surrounding landscape

  • looking natural…an impressive use of natives to the area, and
  • integrating wonderfully with the surrounding desert

According to AAA, site-salvaged trees and cacti were used to keep with the natural look and feel that residents truly enjoy while strolling along the contoured pathways that meander through the development.  Obviously, the judges also enjoyed this natural look and feel. Because this landscape blends so well with the surrounding desert, and because at one time, it was completely disturbed due to construction of the housing development, the judges also awarded AAA the “Best Revegetation of a Disturbed Desert” Award for their streetscapes, medians and walking trails in Dove Mountain.

Starr Pass Medians

Second Place - Medians and Rights of Way, Jay Hick of AAA Landscape

for Starr Pass

The planning concept for this second place entry was based on restoring the construction-disturbed areas to present a natural appearance.  The project included salvaging 300 saguaros, numerous large, native trees and over 5,000 cacti. The judges enjoyed the use of colorful of penstemons and globe mallows interspersed between the shrubs, trees and brittlebush.

2003 Photo Gallery, Medians and Rights of Way Category

Public Education

Harelson Elementary school Xeriscape demo gardenFirst Place- Harelson Elementary School,Kimber DeLorenzo and Wendy Falco

This landscape educates the students, staff and visitors at Harelson Elementary School by requiring the participation of students and teachers to plant and maintain it and by sharing the botanical and common names of most of the plants with visitors.  In addition to the attractive arrangement of the gardens at the school, water harvesting has been incorporated in benches that also offer a cool place to sit during classes.  The judges also noted that the trees selected for this design are “eclectic and unusual – a nice touch.”


2003 Photo Gallery, Public Education Category



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