Helping Your Yard Drink Responsibly (And Look Good)

Up to 70% of your home water use may be currently used in your landscape, but there are ways to increase efficiency while maintaining or improving the health of your landscape plants.

Tempe offers two training programs to help our customers achieve their landscape goals, the Tempe Sustainable Landscape Workshop series (geared to residents) and the SmartScape training program (geared towards landscape professionals). See the appropriate section below for classes offered through each program. 

Tempe Sustainable Landscape Workshops

Tempe offers FREE landscape workshops on cultivating sustainable landscapes that are water wise, beautiful, and low-maintenance. Each workshop is taught by a local expert. The workshop schedule is listed below and updated each season. The schedule is also available as a PDF.

Sustainable Landscape Workshops
  • Sustainable Gardening: Mulching, Composting, and Soil: Garden with joy by maximizing organics, such as mulch and compost, to cultivate healthy soil and efficient landscape watering practices, especially for vegetable, herb, and flower gardens. Instructor: Emily Heller, Master Gardener and farmer. Wednesday, February 20, 2019 from 6-7:30pm at the Tempe Public Library.
  • Creating a Lush Landscape with Desert Plants (2-Part Series): Learn how to choose the right plant for the right place using a desert plant palette. Instructor: Ron Dinchak, environmental biologist and landscape.  designer. Saturdays, February 23 and March 9th from 2-4pm at the Eisendrath House.
  • Desert Lush Landscape Design for the Do-It-Yourself Homeowner (2-Part Series): Learn how to design a sustainable outdoor oasis in this two-part series. Instructor: Erin Hutton, Landscape Designer. Saturday, March 16 and 23rd from 2pm-4pm at the Tempe Public Library.
  • Plants for Birds (and People): Learn why native plants are critical to birds and people and how to select the right plant for the right place. Discover Audubon’s new searchable database and unlock the potential of your yard to be beautiful, low maintenance, and bird friendly! Instructor: Cathy Wise, Education Director with Audubon. Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 2pm-3:30pm at the Tempe Public Library.
  • Irrigation Maintenance, Troubleshooting, and Repair: Proper maintenance is key to managing an irrigation system that keeps your plants healthy while keeping water waste and utility bills low. Learn how to troubleshoot and prevent problems with basic irrigation systems, including drip, sprinkler, and bubbler systems. Instructor: Jeff Lee. Saturday, May 18, 2019 from 2-4:30pm at the Arizona Community Church (9325 S Rural Road). 
  • Monsoon Gardening: When the monsoon season returns this summer, rainfall and higher humidity creates an opportunity in your garden. With this change in season, you can plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers - just as native people have done for generations. Learn what grows under these challenging conditions and create a beautiful, seasonally appropriate garden. Instructor: Emily Heller, Master Gardener and farmer. Wednesday, July 10, 2019 from 6-7:30pm at the Tempe Public Library.
  • Maximize Your Irrigation: Each summer, water usage peaks in July or August, and utility bills skyrocket. Learn how to maximize your irrigation to ensure that every drop is utilized by your landscape plants with practical tips and strategies. Instructor: Jeff Lee, irrigation specialist. Saturday, July 13, 2019 from 2-4:30pm at the Tempe Public Library.
Hydrate the Valley Series

The City of Tempe is a 2019 sponsor of the Watershed Management Group Hydrate the Valley Series. If you missed the January 2019 series that was hosted at the Tempe Public Library, Tempe residents can still take advantage of sessions offered in Glendale, Mesa, and Phoenix. The series is expected to return to Tempe next January 2020.

  • Hydrate Your Yard: This session is all about WMG’s 3 “S”s: slow, spread, and sink. Learn how to use passive rainwater harvesting to create a series of berms, basins, and swales that will direct rainwater to beneficial use for plants while reducing flooding and erosion in your yard. These practices will slow the flow of the water, spread it across the areas where it’s needed, and sink it into the ground. 
  • Hydrate Your PlantsHow can you create a beautiful, lush landscape while conserving water? We'll show you how to select native plants to build wildlife habitat, shade your home, and create an appealing landscape for your yard. If you're looking for the best trees and plants to attract hummingbirds and butterflies, bloom bright with color, or cool off your home with shade, we've got you covered. 
  • Hydrate Your Food: Rain tanks are like rain barrels, only upgraded: bigger, better, and your harvested rainwater lasts longer. While most rain barrels hold about 50 gallons of water, rain tanks can hold 1,000 gallons or more, capturing water from several storms and storing it for use over the course of many drier months. WMG will show you how to use rain tanks as an active form of rainwater harvesting to nourish your vegetable and herb gardens throughout the year. 
  • Hydrate Your SoilsUrban yards have the potential to produce well beyond their natural productivity without needing costly store products by integrating the use of typical waste streams such as greywater, stormwater, plant trimmings, and more. You’ll learn how to assess your yard’s soil type and simple ways to effectively use typical household wastes to build soil health and promote productive urban landscapes. 
  • Hydrate with GreywaterDid you know that an average household’s laundry water produces enough greywater to support a backyard fruit tree? We’ll show you how to use a laundry-to-landscape system to recycle this greywater for use in your yard to nourish plants and reduce your municipal water usage. This session will cover best practices for greywater use and will guide you to creating a greywater action plan for your home. 
SmartScape Professional Training

Smartscape is a water conservation training program specifically designed for professionals in the landscape industry. A range of students seek Smartscape training, including landscape designers, supervisors, and crew members from professional landscaping companies; municipal employees, and Homeowners Associations board members. Classes cover essential topics and important skills for planning, planting, and caring for low-water-use landscapes in the Sonoran Desert. 

  • Smartscape 101: This series of eight, 2.5 hour workshops will take professionals through eight key topics of water-wise landscape management, including plants, soil, and water; landscape water management and irrigation controllers; drip irrigation design and installation; pruning; desert adapted plants maintenance, plant selection and installation; plant problems; and more. Smartscape 101 is offered February and July of each year. Register for upcoming workshops quickly, as they fill up.
  • Smartscape Advanced: This series builds upon the Smartscape 101 series with 15 hours of in-depth instruction on the design, installation, and maintenance of drip and sprinkler irrigation systems. Attendees should have completed the Smartscape 101 series or have a basic knowledge of irrigation systems design, installation, operation, and maintenance.This class is offered every April. 
  • Smartscape 101 Spanish: This Smartscape 101 class is taught completely in Spanish. Email smartscape@cals.arizona.edu or call (602) 827-8206 to register.