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Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 624;

Contrasting Urban Landscapes and Reduced Irrigation Engender Water Conservation in a Desert Environment

Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box 30003, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The University of Jordan, Amman 11942, Jordan
Agricultural Biometric Service, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 January 2018 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 19 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources)
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With increased interest in water conservation, traditional residential landscapes, which often include turfgrass and other high-water use plants, are often eliminated in favor of low water use desert landscape plants. But even with a desert landscape, home owners often overwater, thereby reducing any water conservation possibility. This experiment was designed to demonstrate that plants can retain physiological health even when on reduced irrigation. Three 26.8-m2 plots each of two contrasting landscapes, designated as either traditional or desert, were installed in a desert environment using a pot-in-pot in-ground system. Plots were irrigated at 100% or 50% of evapotranspiration (ET) with either sprinklers (turf) or drip emitters (trees and shrubs) using a modified crossover design. Midday stem water potentials (Ψmd) for Arizona ash, Indian hawthorn and Cleveland sage exhibited seasonal differences. In Chinese pistache, Ψmd remained stable when irrigation treatments were lowered from late spring/early summer (−0.26 MPa) to late summer (−0.35 MPa). Chinese pistache maintained less negative osmotic potential when irrigation increased from 50% ET (−5.13 MPa) to 100% ET (−3.68 MPa) in early fall. The ability of Chinese pistache to maintain Ψmd and osmotic potential may indicate this species’ resilience to drought. Surprisingly, Arizona ash sustained greater relative water content in late fall when irrigated at 50% ET (92% elative water content (RWC)) than when irrigated at 100% ET (76% RWC) and this might be due to osmotic adjustment. The plants used in this study recovered after two weeks of full (100% ET) irrigation suggesting that landscape managers could irrigate at 50% ET for a limited period (approx. four weeks) as a way to conserve water. View Full-Text
Keywords: arid regions; crossover design; drought adaptation; water relations arid regions; crossover design; drought adaptation; water relations

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Frietze, V.D.; Gioannini, R.; Al-Ajlouni, M.G.; VanLeeuwen, D.M.; Hilaire, R.S. Contrasting Urban Landscapes and Reduced Irrigation Engender Water Conservation in a Desert Environment. Sustainability 2018, 10, 624.

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