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Sky Harbor moves to desert landscaping to save money, water

(City of Phoenix Photo)

PHOENIX — Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport recently completed a desert landscaping project that will save an abundance in manpower and resources.

The airport replaced its green grass turf with native desert landscaping, a conservation effort Sky Harbor said will result annually in $400,000 less spent in labor and 5.4 millions of gallons of water saved.

Sky Harbor said it used about 30 million gallons of water per month before the switch.

“In a desert city like Phoenix, every drop counts,” Phoenix Water Services Director Kathryn Sorensen said in a press release. “By making the switch to xeriscape, Phoenix Sky Harbor is not only honoring our city’s native landscapes, but also significantly reducing its water use.”

The changes with the desert landscape include 435 new low-water-use trees, 75 saguaro cactuses, 275 large signature cactuses and 2,900 shrubs for added ground cover.

The airport also added 1.7 miles of rock-filled gabion baskets, which are typically used near slopes and banks to combat water erosion, where turf used to grow.

“This union of primitive landscaping and high-tech, airborne jets is the perfect celebration of the job we do and the place where we work,” James E. Bennett, the airport’s director of Aviation Services, said in the release.

“Visitors arriving from around the world are now welcomed by the sight of terrain that reflects our natural Sonoran Desert habitat and commitment to environmental sustainability.”

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