Retention Basin Turf to Xeriscape Program

Project: ST2405.201

Turf to Xeriscope Program Map
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Public meetings were held on May 30, 2024 for retention basins being considered in the first phase of the Retention Basin Turf to Xeriscape Program. This project is being completed in phases, with the City of Chandler considering converting turf to xeriscape in the retention basins shown on the map as part of the first phase.

These open house style public meetings were intended to provide additional information about the purpose of the program and to collect community feedback. Each meeting included site specific design concepts with staff available to answer questions. 

This program reflects Chandler’s commitment to water conservation and is intended to reduce grass in city-owned retention basins. It's important to use water as efficiently as possible in our landscapes and drainage basins, and this transition to low-water-use landscaping will help protect Chandler’s water supplies for both current and future residents. The city has initiated several projects to convert turf retention basins to xeriscape design principles and also offers rebate programs for the conversion of HOA-owned retention basins. For information on these programs, a link is included in the FAQ below.

The city is currently reviewing community feedback from the public meetings and comments received following the meeting to determine the next steps, and information will be posted as it becomes available.

If you have questions or want to be included in project updates, please call the project hotline at 480-898-4060 or email us. 

Chandler’s 2023-2025 Strategic Framework describes the city’s intention to embrace water sustainability and be a leader in water conservation. The average Chandler stormwater retention basin uses between three to six million gallons of irrigation water each year. That is roughly equivalent to the annual water use for 30-60 homes. The city has implemented a variety of new water conservation programs that will result in water efficiency improvements.

Grass removal rebates are available for all residents, HOAs and businesses and require conversion to low-water-use landscaping. This transition to xeriscape design will reduce overall city water use and protect Chandler’s water supplies for both current and future residents. 

Xeriscape is a type of landscape design that uses minimal irrigation by incorporating drought tolerant trees, shrubs and native grasses. 

Many people think that xeriscape means only rock and cactus. However, there are many different trees, shrubs and native grasses that create variety and visual interest in a landscape design. There are many online guides available to view landscaping guides focused on native desert plants considered drought tolerant.

Artificial turf is not being considered for retention basins. There are a variety of reasons that artificial turf is not preferred for a very large landscape area. Artificial turf is very costly and must be replaced every 5-7 years. Artificial turf reaches dangerously high temperatures during the summer, unless it is cooled with water, meaning a reduction in water savings. The surface temperature is about 20 to 50 degrees higher than natural grass.

Chandler has always been committed to water conservation and has a long history of water conservation programs designed to encourage xeriscape landscaping. However, turf to xeriscape conversions of large grass areas is quite expensive. This past year the State of Arizona offered grant funding to implement water conservation programs such as turf to xeriscape conversions. Chandler was awarded over $5 million dollars in grant funding for our water conservation programs, including this one.

Chandler selected retention basins with the most significant water savings potential.

The xeriscape conversion will be designed to ensure there is no exposed dirt causing dust, with the installation of many drought tolerant trees and shrubs to offer shade, keeping the landscape cool.

The primary purpose of these retention basins is to collect stormwater. Residents will still have access to these retention basins. However, there will not be any grass available for recreation.

Our retention basins are maintained on a weekly basis to ensure they remain free of debris and weeds. This regular maintenance schedule helps the city promptly address any issues that may arise, ensuring the basin operates efficiently and remains visually appealing. We conduct the following tasks during our weekly maintenance:

  1. Debris removal: We clear any litter, branches, and other debris that may have accumulated in the basin.
  2. Weed control: We inspect for and remove any weeds to prevent overgrowth and maintain the integrity of the basin.
  3. Inspection and cleaning : We perform a thorough inspection of the basin’s structures and surroundings to identify any potential problems, such as erosion or blockages, and take necessary corrective actions.

By maintaining this rigorous weekly schedule, we ensure the retention basins functions effectively and remains an asset to the community.

Converting a turf-landscaped retention basin to a xeriscape retention basin involves a structured process that includes planning, preparation, installation, and finishing touches. The entire project typically takes between 5 to 8 weeks to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the site. This conversion not only enhances the aesthetic and ecological value of the retention basin but also offers long-term maintenance and water-saving benefits.

Chandler offers water conservation rebates to assist with the cost of converting from grass to xeriscape landscaping. To qualify for this rebate, you must install low-water-use plants to ensure 50% shade coverage and remove at least 500 square feet of grass. 

Chandler recently announced a new incentive program specifically designed for HOAs who want to convert large grassy common areas to xeriscape design. The city will reimburse up to $75,000 of the project cost. Learn more about Large Landscape Conservation Rebates

If you have questions or want to be included in project updates, please call the project hotline at 480-898-4060 or email us.