Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

green retreat.(Final)

Byline: Story by RICK NATHANSON Of the Journal

Homeowners create personal oases without using a lot of water

By now, most residents of Albuquerque have accepted the reality that we live in a high desert and water is a precious commodity.

Ten years ago, most people couldn't spell xeriscape. Now it's part of the local lexicon and the standard by which all landscapes are measured.

But if you haven't created a cool, aesthetically pleasing personal oasis in your yard, all your efforts to conserve water may seem unfulfilling.

We asked readers to share ideas on how they created outdoor retreats on a tight water budget, and we received responses from a number of homeowners.

Among them were Patrik Schumann, an ecological designer and consultant, whose zoned approach to gardening has resulted in several planted areas, each with its own character, and architect Bruce Davis, whose small backyard pond helps to water a heavily planted arroyo in his front yard.

Integrated system

Schumann operates ecOasys, an ecological design practice ( He purchased his home in the north university campus area about five years ago. It is a 1950-ish single story, noninsulated cinderblock and stucco building, common in the area.

Schumann has worked in Africa and Asia, where he focused on ecological design, sustainable development, low energy-consumption housing, conservation, restoration, edible plant-scaping and small-scale farming.

Not surprisingly, he wants to turn his home into "a residential ecosystem, integrating everyday functions of the house with the ecological processes. …

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