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by Melissa Zinge


The City of Moab Planted a New Landscape Ordinance
by Melissa Zinge

Did you know that in Moab nearly 60% of water use is residential? Did you also know that, in Utah, approximately 65% of residential water use goes toward outdoor irrigation?

On September 12, 2023, the Moab City Council passed a landscape ordinance to help us meet our city’s water conservation goals. The landscape ordinance is a set of standards to support the design, installation, and maintenance of healthy landscapes suited for the Moab climate. The City’s landscape ordinance intends to preserve and enhance our outdoor spaces by supporting water-wise landscaping practices to reduce water usage. Furthermore, it encourages storm water management, fire protection, erosion prevention, urban heat island mitigation, and native plant habitat.

Herb your enthusiasm - no need to transform your landscape overnight, unless you want to!
While regular landscaping maintenance is still required, property owners are legal-nonconforming. Immediate landscape modifications are not required. However, certain circumstances would initiate property owners to enter compliance with the ordinance, such as exterior remodels requiring a building permit or changing 50% or more of the landscape.

For smaller changes, save a little water at a time. Come into greater compliance. For example, when swapping out that wilted plant that didn’t survive summer, pick a water-wise plant from the approved plant list to replace it. There are exceptions, so check out for the entire ordinance.

Three general standards apply to all landscapes:
At least 70% of the front and street adjacent side yard must be landscaped, and 25% of the landscaped area must contain live plants.

Artificial plants are allowed but do not count as part of the required landscaping.

Lastly, 90% of the plants must be from the City of Moab Approved Plant List. Your beloved roses can continue to thrive, but they should not make up more than 10% of the living plant material. If you have a plant that fits into the Moab landscape, you can also apply to add it to the list, so anyone can enjoy it!

From there, folks with building permits can choose the prescriptive option or the more flexible water budget, as outlined in the landscaping ordinance. Projects requiring site plans have other requirements.

The plot thickens– with the new ordinance, the City of Moab property owners are eligible to apply to the State of Utah Water Saver’s turf replacement incentive program. Participants can receive money for replacing their turf with water-wise plants. (insert turf buyback program website or QR code)

*Do not change your landscape before application approval and a site visit. Doing so will disqualify you from this state rebate.

Stay tuned for more information! You can read the entire ordinance (17.10) on the City’s website.
For questions, email

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