Last Updated: March 4, 2021, 2:05 pm

SET building to be xeriscaped


The Science, Engineering and Technology building is currently under construction. The landscaping plan for the building includes xeriscaping. Photo by Misha Mosiichuk.

The Science, Engineering and Technology building will be xeriscaped with desert plants and grasses.

Katie Gomm, landscape architect and manager, said Dixie State University’s landscaping standards ask architects to surround all new buildings with xeriscape planters.

“I am excited to see the beautiful xeriscape landscape the landscape architecture firm G Brown Design created for the new SET building,” Gomm said. “All the planters around the building are planted with xeriscape grasses and desert plants. G Brown worked closely with university staff to choose desert plants that will offer a lot of color and beauty to campus. G Brown’s careful placement of plants based on their sun and shade needs will also aid in needing less water.”

Sherry Ruesch, assistant vice president of Facilities Management, said the State of Utah requires sustainable practices in construction of state-owned buildings, and DSU also uses reuse or river water for landscaping.

“I think that we should always look at water use and esthetics when designing landscape areas,” Ruesch said. “We give direction to the architects that this is required. Because the entire area was grass before, the [SET] building and new landscaping will use less water.”

Gomm said most plants that thrive in St. George are drought tolerant and xeriscape planters use less water than traditional grass landscapes. She said when grass is installed on campus, a drought tolerant fescue blend is used.

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“In order for outside areas to be inviting for study, there needs to be some cool spaces,” Ruesch said. “This is provided by shade and sometimes lawn area. Creating inviting exterior spaces is part of our campus master plan. In new construction, we do try to be specific in locating these areas so most of the landscape can be xeriscape.”

Sustainability Club President Stephanie Meeks, a sophomore integrated studies major from San Francisco, said the Sustainability Club previously created a petition in support of xeriscaping, and she is excited to have more sustainable actions taking place on campus.

“This [will] be a great role model for the whole St. George community, as water is becoming more scarce around the world and we all need to learn ways to conserve in big and small ways,” Meeks said. “Having more native plants in our communities will help all of the wildlife that lives here.”

St. George resident Tracey O’Kelly, former chair of the DSU Sustainability Committee and former adviser of the DSU Sustainability Club, said she thinks the benefits of xeriscaping could include using the landscape as a training tool for students in botany, decreasing water usage, mowing less and having a show place for the community.

“I have always felt that our amazing school should be setting the example for the community, and this is one way we could do it,” O’Kelly said.

The landscaping plan for the SET building includes trees such as the Texas mountain laurel and hybrid California fan palm, shrubs such as the yellow bird of paradise and three kinds of yucca, blue fescue and muhly grasses, and perennials such as majestic liriope and two kinds of lantana.