A roof-reliant landscape is not a short-term project that can be quickly accomplished in a weekend. Rather, it takes careful planning and patience to establish such a landscape. By definition, roofreliant landscaping uses plants that (1) can establish themselves within three to five years and (2) can, once established, bounce back quickly after a period of drought. In an ideal roof-reliant landscape, plant material is phased in over the course of several years so that the landscape can fit within a strict water budget3. One example of such a schedule might be:
• Year 1: Develop the landscape plan and design the cistern system in the winter. Install the cistern system in the spring. Harvest water during the summer monsoon season. Plant trees in the fall. (Xeric trees generally need 6-8 weeks for root growth before the first hard freeze.) • Year 2: Install hardscape areas (including shade structures) and any important landscape features that do not require water throughout the year. If enough water is stored in the cistern and enough money exists in the budget, plant xeric shrubs in late summer or early fall.
• Year 3: Harvest precipitation throughout the winter, spring and summer. If enough water is stored in the cistern and enough money exists in the budget, plant heat-loving xeric perennials and shrubs during warm weather and cold-adapted
plants in the early fall.
• Year 4: Harvest precipitation throughout the year and continue to establish plants.
• Year 5: Given normal years of precipitation, much of the landscape could be established at this time. Attempt to keep at least 67% of the cistern filled in order to be prepared for drought.