Localscapes: Putting it all together

By Cynthia Bee, Conservation Garden Park

Over the past few weeks, we’ve explored each of the 5 elements of a Localscape and how to apply them to your own landscape. If you missed any of the previous articles, you can catch them online at http://spacesutah.com. This week, we’ll show how the 5 elements work together in a real Utah landscape.

A family in West Jordan created a true Utah Localscape (with inspiration from visits to the Conservation Garden Park). Their landscape fits seamlessly into the neighborhood while requiring just one-third the water a typical Utah yard consumes. Let’s look at how they achieved this lovely outcome.

Central Open Shape

In both the front and the back yard, the lawn is a central open shape. By shrinking and condensing the lawn in this way, all the lawn is available for recreational use with only a single edge to trim and maintain. Though it’s not obvious from the front view, the lawn has been pulled away from the home and the space between filled with accent plants and a front yard Gathering Area.

Lawn has been eliminated from areas where it doesn’t typically perform well. Though the park strip may look like an extension of the lawn, it’s actually planted with Creeping Thyme, a water-efficient groundcover, and watered with drip irrigation. Neither side yard has lawn—instead they provide off-street parking, storage and simple paths.

Gathering Areas

Gathering areas increase the usability of the landscape while also removing portions of the yard from active maintenance. Once you’ve installed gathering areas, little work is required to keep them looking good and working well. In this yard, a small plaza creates curb appeal in the front yard while a large covered patio provides an attractive and functional way to enjoy the back yard.

Activity Zones

Activity zones are customized uses that are unique to each property based on the lifestyle of the people living there. This family enjoys growing vegetables and has placed raised vegetable beds in the rear side yard area. An outdoor cooking area provides an additional activity zone on the back patio. While it isn’t the most glamorous activity zone, garbage cans have been placed on a concrete pad that can be easily accessed but also remain out of view.


Connecting each of the 3 previous elements with designated paths ensures the functionality of the landscape while reducing work and maintenance. Paths make the journey interesting and can be as fancy or simple as you desire. The key is that lawn is never used as a path—it doesn’t work well, requires lots of edging to maintain it, and almost always creates overspray in planting beds which increases weeds.


The first four elements of a Localscape ensure landscape function and enjoyment in an organized way. Spaces that remain AFTER you’ve designed those first four elements are filled with colorful plants.

Localscapes classes are available statewide to help you design a new yard or renovate an existing landscape. Visit Localscapes.com to learn more or find a class in your area.