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Water Conservation Garden Needs Seed Money

Artist rendering of the Water Conservation Garden at Red Butte Garden.

Water Conservation Garden Needs Seed Money

Oct. 17, 2012 – Red Butte Garden will receive $5 million in matching challenge grant money to bring its planned Water Conservation Garden to reality, but for the garden to grow it needs to raise an additional $1 million  by Feb. 1, 2013.

Why a Water Conservation Garden?

Utah may have “the greatest snow on Earth,” but the state receives an average of only 13 inches of precipitation per year and it is the second driest state in the nation, next to Nevada. According to a study by the State of Utah Division of Water Resources, Utah also “consumes more water per capita than any other state in the country, in part because residents use more water than they need, particularly in watering their landscapes.”

As Utah’s population continues to grow, the current overuse of water is not sustainable. Agricultural, industrial and residential users are all competing for the same limited resource. Utah’s future environmental health and economic expansion will be influenced by how we use and conserve water.

“The University of Utah embraces sustainable growth as a critical part of its mission in the 21st century. The addition of a new Water Conservation Garden demonstrates the commitment of the university and Red Butte Garden to the practices of sustainable landscaping for our growing campus and in our rapidly expanding communities,” says David Pershing, president of the University of Utah.

Because one major way to reduce water consumption in Utah is by using less water on residential and commercial landscapes, Red Butte Garden is planning to build a Water Conservation Garden to show people different landscaping options. This garden will test, display and interpret water-wise landscaping principles, including plant selection, irrigation techniques, landscape design and maintenance.

When completed, the beautiful three acre Water Conservation Garden will bring an end to the myth that a water-wise garden can only exist in a xeriscape of rocks and cacti. The new garden will consist of series of different “rooms” or areas, each showcasing how exotic and native plants with differing soil and water needs can grow into beautifully layered and vibrant landscapes without overusing water.

With the addition of the Water Conservation Garden, Red Butte Garden will also add new educational programs including lectures, courses and tours to educate people how to create their own water-wise landscapes and how water can be used more efficiently.

“Water conservation as an issue is one of the most compelling strategies that we see in the Office of Sustainability—it has the power to move students, faculty, staff and community to involvement and participation like few other topics,” says Myron Willson, director of the Office of Sustainability. “Water is a precious and limited resource. The Water Conservation Garden will help educate and inspire all of us to use that resource more wisely for future generations.”

Challenge Grant Details:

In May 2012, Red Butte Garden received a generous and visionary $3,000,000 challenge grant from the Alternative Visions Fund from the Chicago Community Foundation to design and build the three acre Water Conservation Garden on the hillside north of the Children’s Garden. To receive the money, the challenge grant requires Red Butte Garden to raise an additional $3,000,000 in matching funds by February 1, 2013. Recognizing the importance of this project and this unique opportunity, the Dumke Family pledged an additional $2,000,000 toward the match. Every dollar donated now brings five matching dollars to the Garden.

“The Water Conservation Garden will be a beautiful addition to an already stunning community asset. More importantly, by demonstrating how to have attractive landscapes while reducing water use, it will show how we can cut our water bills while reducing the diversion of this scarce resource from agricultural and commercial applications that contribute to economic growth” says Clark Ivory, chair of the University of Utah Board of Trustees.

For more information about the Water Conservation Garden at Red Butte Garden or to donate, call Gregory Lee at (801) 585-3878 or Katherine Atwood at (801) 585-5658, or visit:

About Red Butte Garden
Red Butte Garden is Utah’s botanical garden and arboretum. Our mission is to cultivate the human connection with the beauty of living landscapes. Through our mission we strive to create a community that understands, values, protects and is enriched by the world of plants.