Smartscape: Educating Landscape Professionals on Water Efficiency for 25 Years
By Warren Tenney
A well-designed, desert-adapted landscape is more than just picturesque—it can help lower your water bill, reduce the time and money you spend on maintenance, and add value to your home or business. Your landscape is an investment, something you plan to enjoy for years to come, so it’s also important to make sure you hire the right person to help you design, install, and maintain that investment.
Landscape and irrigation professionals influence water use through the creation and maintenance of our landscapes, which is precisely why the Smartscape Program was created 25 years ago. Smartscape is a comprehensive, research-based training program that instructs landscape and irrigation professionals on the fundamentals of design, installation, and maintenance of sustainable, desert-adapted landscapes and irrigation systems.
Since its inception in 1994, it has grown to be a collaborative partnership between AMWUA, Tucson Water, the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, and the Department of Water Resources, with regional support from the Arizona Nursery Association, the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association, and industry representatives. The program has seen over 4,000 industry professionals attend the various courses which are taught by local industry experts, academics, and practitioners.
The benefits of the Smartscape Program can be seen on all sides. Taking part in the program empowers landscape and irrigation professionals to build skills that will increase landscape water use efficiency, providing an opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competition, to provide their customers with quality service, and to take personal responsibility for a resource critical to the industry. It also helps landscape and irrigation professionals stay up to date on the latest industry trends, research, and practices while networking and learning about marketing opportunities.
In addition to the benefits to the professionals, residents and business owners are not only better educated on the positive impact a low water use yard can have. It also helps residents understand how important it is to hire the right person to help you design, install, and maintain your landscape as well as ensure your irrigation system is running as efficiently as possible. As in any profession, not all landscape service providers are equal. The landscape professionals you select to assist you should be trusted partners who provide expert advice, guidance, and services to help bring your outdoor living space to life.
The Smartscape website is a critical component of the program. For landscape professionals, it provides information on upcoming Smartscape training in both Maricopa and Pima Counties as well as promotes the value of training and certification. For residents and businesses, the website details the value of hiring trained, certified landscape and irrigation professionals, while highlighting Smartscape graduates by enabling consumers to search for and contact those trained professionals available for hire. The updated website, which just recently launched, is efficient, user-friendly and mobile-adapted.
Water is a precious resource, especially for us here in the desert. Proper plant selection and appropriate irrigation can significantly reduce water consumption while maintaining the landscapes that are critical to cool the urban environment and enhance our communities. In the end, we know that these professionals influence both commercial and residential outdoor water use through their practices and the information they transmit to their colleagues and customers daily. Their role is vital to achieving overall conservation goals while further educating customers on the importance of low water use landscapes.
The Smartscape program has remained a high priority for AMWUA’s Conservation and Efficiency Advisory Group as it supports AMWUA members in their efforts to increase water use efficiency, extend existing supplies, reduce future water demand, and prepare for potential shortage restrictions.
We are proud that Smartscape is an affordable way for professionals to strengthen their skills and innovate their businesses while providing residents and business owners with a wide range of resources to create and maintain beautiful, sustainable landscapes.
For 50 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit www.amwua.org.
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