The folks over at the Boise Larry Miller Subaru had a problem: the two south facing areas of turf in front of their showroom looked nice enough, but demanded an obscene amount of water. Worse, over-spray from the broadcast irrigation was staining their shiny new Subarus.
As a sponsor/supporter of the Idaho Botanical Garden, naturally Larry Miller Subaru turned to IBG for turf alternative ideas. IBG horticulture director Toby Mancini, sketched up a plan that included creating berms in the two areas out of a specific soil "recipe" (25% organic compost, 25% fractured 1/4" gravel and 50% screened topsoil), especially formulated for xeric, zonally adapted plants. The plants he specified read like a list of the "who's who" list of dependable, drought tolerant and readily available specimens, perfect for the dry intermountain west. They included:
|Philadelphus lewisii 'Blizzard'|
|Panicum virgatum "Heavy Metal'|
|Nepeta racemosa 'walker's low'|
|Oennothera macrocarpa subsp. incan 'Silver Blade'®|
|Echinacea x 'Cheyenne Spirit'|
We jumped at the opportunity when Toby asked us if we be interested in the installation and were able to complete the project in a single day (including the conversion of the broadcast sprinkler system over to single source drip system for each plant*).
|Clean up after a long day.|
|Fresh installation = lots of negative space. By mid-summer next year, the plants will really start filling in.|
*I generally prefer broadcast irrigation because I believe it promotes good lateral root development as well as a vibrant soil ecology. This is a great example, however, where drip was the right way to go to eliminate wasteful over-spray as well as runoff from the berm. Our preferred approach is to loop a 1/4" line with 6" emitter intervals all around each plant, making sure that each 1/4" line is directly connected to a 1/2" feed line for even water volume throughout the bed and even distribution of water around each plant.