Xeriscaping is a key component of the town's plan to maximize Payson's water supply.
"Water will always be a major issue up here quite possibly the No. 1 issue and xeriscaping is one of the best ways there is to make this limited resource go further," said Glen McCombs of the High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona. To educate Rim country residents about the importance of xeriscaping, McCombs' organization is sponsoring the Water-Wise Landscape and Garden Festival from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Julia Randall Elementary School.
Xeriscaping, according to a free Town of Payson guide on the subject, "is a complicated-sounding word for a very wise and simple concept." Derived from the Greek word for dry, it means using plants that don't require much water.
"An established, properly maintained xeriscape needs about one-third the water of a traditional landscape," McCombs said. "That's important because outdoor watering accounts for about 40 percent of all water use."
In addition to a complete xeriscaping "how-to," the town's guide includes 30 pages of low-water-use plants, trees, grasses and ground covers that grow well in the Rim country. It is available at the water department at Town Hall.
The free water-wise festival will feature booths, demonstrations and hands-on activities covering such topics as landscape planning and design, choosing and planting appropriate turf, drip systems, composting, rain water harvesting, low-water-use plants, mulching and worm culture.
In addition, xeriscaping authorities such as Andy Wasowski, author of "The Landscaping Revolution," will make slide presentations on "Rainwater Harvesting," "Plants of the Southwest," and "Water, Dirt and Growin' Stuff."
The event also will include food and beverage booths, paddleboat rides, clowns and face painting.
The Xeriscape Council was formed two years ago, and is planning several workshops throughout the year. The group also is partnering with the Payson campus of Eastern Arizona College to xeriscape the campus courtyard. "We are going to use grant money to do the entire courtyard, and it will serve to illustrate all the principles of xeriscaping," McCombs said.