skip to the content of this page Arizona's Official Website Arizona Department of Water Resources
Arizona Department of Water Resources Arizona's Official Web Site
Securing Arizona's Water Future
Ask us a question...Click for site mapClick to use the ADWR DictionaryDepartment Contact InformationADWR CalendarSend page to printerPlace a Bookmark hereSend a link to this pageDecrease font sizeIncrease font size
Water Management
2005 Xeriscape Contest Winners

The objective of this contest is to recognize and promote the innovative or exemplary use of native and low-water-use plants, water harvesting, gray water and efficient irrigation systems.

Tucson is known for its conservation ethic.  On average 28% of residential water use is for landscaping, compared with many other areas that are often as high as 60-70%!  During the summer months outdoor water use jumps between 40-48%. The average Tucson residential water use is 111 gallons per capita per day.  The homeowner entries for the 2005 contest averaged 87 gpcd, with the lowest coming in at 23 gpcd! 

Community Xeriscape Leader

Community Xeriscape Leader Award, is designed to honor an individual or organization who is a driving force in the Tucson area in promoting Xeriscape principles and/or the use of native and arid-adapted plants.

Elizabeth Davison 2005 Xeriscape Leader2005 Community Xeriscape Leader - Libby Davison

For her outstanding leadership in advancing the principles of Xeriscape and water conservation. Libby currently serves as the Director of the University of Arizona- Campus Arboretum and as an instructor-lecturer in the Department of Plant Sciences. She has a Master of Science Degree in Horticulture from the U of A, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Landscape Horticulture from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. 

Over the years, Libby has been active in teaching others and arranging arid plant conferences such as the annual Desert Horticulture Conference held here in Tucson.  Libby works directly with plants and in many venues such as publishing information and writing arid landscape book reviews for Southwest Horticulture.

One of Libby’s greatest accomplishments has been the formation of the U of A - Arboretum.  The Arboretum was established to save the numerous arid plants brought in by Warren Jones from other arid areas of the world to test on campus to determine their suitability for Tucson landscapes.  Many of those plants are now in production and prominent features in landscapes throughout Tucson, Phoenix and the arid southwest.  Due to her tireless efforts to protect these stately landscape resources the plants can no longer be destroyed, they must be evaluated, transplanted, cloned or reproduced by other means.  

Libby is always helpful, modest and hard working. She never seeks glory for herself, but works tirelessly to accomplish those things she considers important. Libby has been a driving force in promoting Xeriscape principles and the use of native and arid-adapted plants at the University of Arizona and throughout the Southwest, she truly is a deserving Community Xeriscape Leader!  


Homeowner Category 

These entries must be substantially designed and installed by the homeowner’s themselves:

First Place homeowner under $10,000- Lancaster Residence  

Front yard after revegetation projectThe judges found this yard brought out artistry beyond the "normal way of seeing things.”   So much effort went into reusing material, and creating an environmentally sensitive, organic surrounding.  Rainwater is the primary source for irrigating the landscape, with gray water as the secondary.   Municipal water is used strictly as a supplementary source.  Many carefully selected desert plants were used to enhance the “commons” of the public right-of-way.  It is quite evident that much love and imagination was involved in creating this, self-sustaining, earth friendly, highly functional, permaculture residence.


First Place homeowner over $10,000, and Second Place “Water Harvesting”- Kathi Glass Residence

The judges found this entry has a very intriguing botanical species variety, with the landscape fitting well with the house architecture.  It demonstrates excellent use of variable rock size on a slope, exemplifying water conservation principals through rainwater detention and proper drip irrigation.  With the plant species numbering in the hundreds, this landscape would certainly attract wildlife and is largely self-sustaining.  It is evident that much time, energy and nurturing was involved in this award-winning landscape.  This homeowner has conceived and installed a unique water harvesting system and her water bills show that it is doing a great job!  

Judges’ Award  “Best Design to Attract Birds”- Alex and Henrietta Womack

This award goes to a landscape full of huge mesquite and Palo verde trees, century plants, Ocotillos, and a variety of other desert plants, which makes it an inviting haven to a of number of birds such as cardinals, mocking birds, doves, sparrows, quail, woodpeckers – even a hawk that stands in the middle of the birdbath.  

mini oasisJudges’ Award “Best Mini Oasis” - Onelia South

Ms. South has created a total plant screening between the home and street, offering private serenity in an otherwise busy part of the city. This mini-oasis, which the owner proudly describes as her own private paradise, will certainly help cool the yard during the hot summer season. 

Judges’ Award “Best Use of Plant Zone Concept” - Fred Gallego

Much thought and consideration went into the proper zoning of the wonderful variety of plants, including artistic use of groundcover, and a pleasant mini-oasis.  The design also incorporates rainwater harvesting as well as recycling water from the pool to the lawn. It is a great area for family gathering and entertaining. 

landscape feature looks like old ruinsJudges’ Award “Best Use of Architectural Elements in a Landscape”- Charles Rummel.

Great detail went into the stone Hohokam house and clever tool shed at this site.  The Anasazi structure with fire pit is very intriguing, tying in nicely with the tool shed and rock formed planters.  Amongst all these creatively used elements, obvious thought and effort went into water harvesting.  



2005 Photo Gallery, Homeowner Category

Professional Residential Category

First Place Residential Award & Judges’ Award “Best Design to Attract Wildlife”, Greg Corman, Gardening Insights, Inc. for the Dillon Residence.

cactus garden areaThe “wild” placement and combinations on the edges of this landscape encourage birds, lizards, and other wildlife into this incredible garden. This garden is a cactus and succulent collection, blending beautifully with the prior landscape.  The good mixes of native plants really enhance the cactus garden.  While sitting on one of the many benches, this garden gives a tranquil, calming feeling one can enjoy for hours.  The judges wanted to stay longer just to enjoy the garden!  It is a great example of transforming what was once an area overgrown with shrubs and weeds into a magnificent landscape that its owners will admire for years to come.

Judges’ Award “Best Use of Sonoran and Chihuahuan Desert Natives”, Joe Billings, the Landscaping Artist for the Von Scheliha Residence

This landscape design was improvised on site using desert natives, including Acacia and Palo verde trees; Agave and barrel cactus; Indian Mallow, Penstemon and Deer grass…just to name a few!  This design is very detail oriented with outstanding care and use of native plants. 

Judges’ Award “Best Treatment of a Hillside, Roberta Braegelmann, Sonoran Gardens for the Wilson Residence

This well thought out design with flowering shrubs and desert trees providing color and height to the front landscape.  The yellow and purple dalea in the rear yard make good groundcovers for the small areas and cascade nicely over the walls. The transition from home to desert was creatively done. 

revegetation of disturbed desertJudges’ Award “Best Revegetation of a Disturbed Desert Area” and

“Most Efficient Irrigation System”, Deb Hahn-Butterfield and Steve Mallgren, Horizons West for the Sheafe Residence


We are lucky to have irrigation specialists as judges for this category.  Their expertise is important along with the water reports provided by the entrants.  This professional entry for the wins this award “hands down!”


This entry was based on restoring the disturbed areas to present a natural appearance. The array of native material consisting of trees, shrubs, grasses, perennials, accents and cactus are very appreciated.  As one of the judges noted, the view of the Catalina mountains and the Tucson valley is “to die for”. 

roof top gardenJudges’ Award “Most Versatile & Creative Use of a Garden Space”  Chris Evans, Phred Bartholomei and Bil Taylor for the McKenzie Residence

This residence has its uniquely designed gardens are on the roof!  These gardens, which are known as green roofs, minimize pollutants that drain from the roof into the watershed and reduce runoff, which reduces erosion on the this steep site.  They also contribute to the reduction of the urban heat island effect.  The judges claimed these gardens are definitely a plus for the surrounding neighbors;  they can look at a garden and not another roof! 

2005 Photo Gallery, Professional Residential Category

Commercial Category

ROW planting at commercial propertyFirst Place Commercial and Judges’ Award “Creative Use of Native Plants in a Public Right-of-Way”, Margaret Joplin, Design Collaborations, Ltd for Long Realty

Sheer diligence went into the design of this landscape due to the limited space to work with.  Creating a raised planting area with a wide variety of colorful, low water use shrubs, groundcovers and trees using large Catalina rock boulders between the sidewalk and the building adds interest not usually found in a commercial landscape. 

This professional facility was designed to complement the adjacent property and to blend with the neighborhood.  It fits well within the central city with the creative use of native drought tolerant plants that create a distinct street presence.  The lush mix of plant forms, textures and color create a pleasing aesthetic feature on this site and are watered by an underground irrigation system.  Given the project purpose and guidelines, it is clear that much review and visual foresight went into to this lovely commercial landscape. 

2005 Photo Gallery, Commercial Category

Special Awards -Water Conservation and Artistry in Landscaping Award

Judges’ Award “Best Water Harvesting” & J. D.  DiMeglio “Artistry in Landscaping” Award Brad Lancaster

backyard with rainwater harvestingThis brilliant system harvests rainwater in earthworks and tanks. All vegetated areas are planted in bowl-like sunken, mulched basins to where runoff is directed, thus the rainwater is the irrigation system and distributes itself where the owner chooses.  In addition, a 1,200-gallon cistern harvests runoff from the home’s roof, providing the only water source used in the vegetable garden.  All the gray water from all sinks, bathtub, outdoor shower and washing machine is directed to the landscape. There is no doubt this water harvesting system has been passionately incorporated into this award winning landscape.  In fact,  we’ve heard stories that the local water company thought there might be a broken meter because their water usage was so low, less than 23 gallons per person per day!  

One of our top awards honors J. D. DiMeglio, a Tucson legend and innovator in the garden design world. Brad received this prestigious for his efforts in his neighborhood and around his home which focused on organizing an annual neighborhood tree planting. Since 1996 neighborhood volunteers, with the help from Trees for Tucson, have planted over 1,000 trees.  In addition, everyone is encouraged to plant their trees in water harvesting, mulched basins.

The public right-of-way in front of the residence was designed as a demonstration site, where a meandering raised path was created with adjoining sunken water harvesting basins planted primarily with native plants.  Curbs have been cut to utilize street runoff to irrigate basins, and reduce downstream flooding.  Now that the plants are established, they are watered entirely by harvested rain and stormwater runoff.

Tours are often given of this site to neighbors and schools to help spread the ideas of water conservation and other strategies that can help us live more sustainable within the constraints of the Sonoran desert. 

Judges’ Award “Best Use of Low Water Use Plants”, Craig LeCroy 

In our desert environment and current drought conditions, using low water use plants is certainly encouraged.  There is no doubt this homeowner’s landscape has done just that.  Many of the plants used are on the ADWR’s official Low Water Use Drought Tolerant Plant List, including an array of Aloe, Agave, and flowering plants. 


Honorable Mention for Harvesting Water at their homes.  Craig LeCroy and Charles and Nancy Rummel

Tucson AMA Navigation Links