Payson was one of 14 communities to receive a federally funded grant to promote the High Country Xeriscape Council's efforts to provide Rim Country residents and businesses with creative, water-saving horticulture.
Glen McCombs, owner of Plant Fair Nursery and the chairman of the council, said the money will help educate the public and improve the demonstration garden at Gila County Community College.
"We're really pleased," McCombs. "Without it, we'd be able to do nothing."
The Urban and Community Forestry Program Community Challenge Grant Program, sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona State Land Department, awarded a total of $125,000 to projects that promote understanding and preservation of Arizona's natural resources.
The matching-fund grant will pay for $4,500 of the council's $9,000 project titled, "Appropriate High Country Garden."
In-kind donations will cover the remainder of the cost.
Xeriscape philosophy combines water-saving principles to maximize aesthetic vegetation. According to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, it employs seven horticulture principles: Landscape planning, plant selection, limited lawn coverage, effective irrigation, soil improvement, mulching and maintenance.
Projects, according to the Arizona Forestry Department, were judged on a commitment to urban forestry programs, the coordination of the program and its educational benefits.
Most of the vegetation rooted in the demonstration garden are indigenous to the Four Corners area of the Southwest and adapted to higher elevations and dry climates.
Local residents are increasingly adopting the xeriscape way of gardening. McComb said he sees fewer lawns and lush gardens.
"Everybody in Payson should be given a medal," he added. "We're reciprocating by showing them how they can beautify using low-water plants."
The council must finish the project by September 2007.
Until then, the council will finalize plans, begin planting and complete irrigation improvements.
McCombs said gardening buffs are welcome to donate time and money, and as the project moves forward, McComb will offer presentations and workshops. For more information, e-mail McCombs at firstname.lastname@example.org.