Xeriscaping experiment is city’s answer to landscaping tough elements along Holly Boulevard

Jill Meier, Journal editor

Jill Meier/BV Journal 

Daemon Coughlin of Oakridge Nursery plants native grass along the boulevard.

Impact Landscape Design installs their xeriscaping test plot on the west end of the boulevard.


Emerald Spire Crabapple trees were rooted in the lanter on the boulevard.


Xeriscaping. It’s a funny sounding word that makes a big impact. And that big impact is starting to come to life along Holly Boulevard. 

Xeriscaping is the practice of designing landscapes to reduce or eliminate the need for irrigation. Ear-lier this year, the Brandon City Council approved a near $100,000 investment in three trial areas along the busy east-west artery. Local lawn and garden companies, Splitrock Nursery, Oakridge Nursery and Impact Landscaping Design were each awarded a segment of the roadway. Last week, two of the companies, Oakridge Nursery and Landscaping and Impact Landscaping Design, put in their designs that include prairie flowers, trees and perennials.

“It’s the beautification of the city, but it’s also water conservation because turf grass needs a lot of water and irrigation,” said City Engineer Tami Jansma.

Jansma said the city will monitor this fall’s project for potential future new construction projects.

“I want residents to remember that this is a test project and some of it might not work out as planned,” Jansma said. “I don’t want anybody going into this thinking that everything’s going to be perfect.

Jansma considers the xeriscaping as a “good ‘classroom starter kit’ type of thing to see what works and doesn’t work and to see what the community likes and doesn’t like.”

The xeriscaping test project was inspired by recent years of water conservation discussions and im-plementations. 

“There’s been a lot of discussion with the water conservation committee about what we can do in some boulevards and what we can do that actually removes some of that turf grass that needs to be watered, other than rock and concrete,” Jansma said. “We still want storm water to infiltrate into the ground and not provide a lot of runoff, so native vegetation doesn’t consume so much water.”

Jansma reminds that water remain an important resource for the community.

“It costs a lot of money to pump it out of the ground to get it to the water treatment plant to treat the water and then to just dump it on lawns. We want everybody to have nice lawns but we also want to make sure that we’re doing our part,” she said.

Daemon Coughlin, a partner in Oakridge Nursery and Landscaping, was busy pushing a grass seed dispenser along the boulevard last week. He was putting down see for drought-tolerant grass that will reach 8 to 10 inches tall.

“They shouldn’t have to mow it all and hopefully it will fill in nice and have a tufted look to it,” Coughlin said.

Oakridge’s stretch of the boulevard is the planter on the south side of the road across from Brandon Lutheran Church.

In the planter went a number of Emerald Spire Flowering Crab trees, ornamental grasses and daylil-ies. He said all of these should grow with less water than grass would require.

“It’s tough unless you’re really irrigating it, you’re not going to get much to grow except for weeds,” he said. “

“Hopefully, this is a good mix. It’s some trial plots that we’re doing along Holly. It’s a highly-traveled road and it needs to look a little better and we’re trying to get a mix of what works and give people an alternative than just to do grass in the boulevards.”

Coughlin said trees, shrubs and perennials typically require less water than grass.

“So, just doing that is better than having an irrigated lawn all of the time,” he said. “It’s going to look a little different and people just have to be a little patient. This is not your normal grass boulevard.”

On the far west end of Holly Boulevard, from Sioux Boulevard and past Dollar General, Impact Landscaping Design was busy planting varieties of native grasses, Spirea and Pink Yarrow plants.

“They are really hardy,” a landscaper with the company said. “Everything here should be pretty darn strong, not necessarily needing too much water.”

Splitrock Nursery’s section is on the east end of Holly Boulevard, and they have not begun work there yet.

In just the few days the xeriscaping has been in, Jansma is excited about what she’s seeing.

“I think it looks great. I’m excited to see the different plants and what works in our boulevards, be-cause we all know that we’re going to use some salt and the survival of some of these plants might hinge on snow and ice and everything else we get this winter. Hopefully, everything can come back in the spring and we can do a little bit of clean-up work,” she said. “We’re putting in some different type of boulevard trees as well, and to me that’s exciting because you don’t’ see too many trees down Holly Boulevard. The city had tried that in the past and they didn’t survive that as well. Look-ing at soil testing, it seems our soil was not very good for putting in plants, so what we did with this is we took out some of that soil and replaced it with some good black dirt.”



The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
1404 E. Cedar St.
Brandon, SD 57005
(605) 582-9999

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