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City website helps people use less water

Just click on the plants you like to learn more
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Julie Smitherman, water conservation specialist, measures the moisture content of soil at North Mountain Park Nature Center Friday in Ashland. Smitherman says the goal of the new Water Wise Landscaping website is to reduce water use citywide by 5 percent. Julia Moore / Daily TidingsJulia Moore
 Posted: 2:00 AM September 25, 2012

The city of Ashland has unveiled a practical, easy-to-use website that helps people choose plants, trees and landscape designs that use less water.

The Ashland Water Wise Landscaping website at is meant to help residents achieve a citywide goal of cutting water use by 5 percent, said Julie Smitherman, who started as the city's new water conservation specialist in May.

"I knew it was important to focus on our summer peak usage," said Smitherman.

During summers when the water supply in Reeder Reservoir above town runs low, the city has to institute water curtailment measures.

Conserving water can reduce the need for curtailment and also help Ashland postpone costly infrastructure improvements to meet growing water demand.

On the new website, residents can tour photo galleries of real front yards, back yards, lawn alternatives, hillsides, arbors, and trellises and public spaces.

Clicking on one of the categories — lawn alternatives, for example — takes viewers to photos of attractively landscaped sites.

In the photos, squares are drawn around different plants and trees.

If a particular specimen catches your eye, hover over the square to learn the plant or tree's name, get a brief description of the plant and learn about the growing conditions it favors.

For even more information, click on the square around a plant or tree. You can then click on a blue "Add" button and add it to your personalized favorites list. Lists can be printed out.

"You can give it to your landscaper or take it down to a local nursery and get the plants you need," Smitherman said.

The website includes a resources page with tips on designing and installing landscaping that uses less water, eliminating irrigation run-off and over-spraying, among other topics.

People looking for plants to meet their precise needs and desires can use the guided search function on the website.

For example, someone who wants a perennial plant with pink flowers to fill a sunny spot can get a list of plants matching those requirements, Smitherman said.

To help people get the most out of the website, it includes a video on how to use it.

The full website address is

For more information or to schedule a free sprinkler system evaluation, contact the city's water conservation staff at 541-552-2062.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or

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