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The Desert Botanical Garden recognizes sustainability as a holistic process that encompasses environmental, social, and economic performance. The Garden strives to apply these principles by supporting growth in sustainable thinking and actions among our visitors and the surrounding community.

The plants that live in the Garden’s desert environment are especially adapted to thrive in extreme conditions; however, slight changes in conditions can impact the health of plants and other living organisms. It is the Garden’s intention that inspiration through positive examples and education within the Garden’s boundaries and beyond will preserve the desert environment for generations to come.

What the Garden is doing:



A team of Garden representatives strive to bring sustainability principles and thinking to the forefront of Garden decisions and actions. This team, known as the Sustainability Initiatives Task Force (SIT), meets monthly to ensure that the Garden is inspiring staff, volunteers, visitors, and the community to preserve the natural world by being an innovative advocate and resource for sustainability.

APGA-logo-300x391-nobg.pngThe Desert Botanical Garden and SIT are supported by the American Public Garden Association (APGA) and their efforts to advance public gardens as a force for positive change within communities. Below are examples of our partnership.

Public Garden Sustainability Index

APGA provides public gardens with documents to support their sustainability initiatives. The Sustainability Index v1.0 and Proven Practice Workbook v1.0 provide guidelines and examples that promote sustainable actions and thinking specific to
the needs of public garden staff, volunteers, visitors, and communities.



The Garden is a participant of APGA’s YOUtopia initiative which furthers public gardens’ common goals of positive change, leadership, public engagement, and empowerment regarding climate change. By focusing on relevant and positive solutions public garden staff, visitors, and communities can understand how their personal and civic behaviors can have positive impacts.

The Desert Botanical Garden has pledged to:

  1. Lead by example and illustrate how we will reduce net climate impact.
  2. Implement plans for sustainability in buildings, landscapes, water, energy, waste, transportation, food.
  3. Educate and engage garden visitors, volunteers, staff, and community in climate impacts and sustainable solutions.
  4. Monitor and share results.

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Bottle filling stations


To reduce disposable plastic water bottle usage, the Garden is installing bottle filling stations throughout the Garden. We call them Hydration Stations. We currently have two Hydration Stations with more to come in the near future. Locations of the hydration stations are marked in the trail guide so that you can find them on your next visit. Don't forget to bring a reusable water bottle!

Canal Project    

In the summer of 2013, the Garden completed construction on a new pumping system that allows us to draw non-potable water directly from the neighboring SRP Canal. A split water system irrigates our plants using nutrient-rich, non-potable water while using treated water from the City of Phoenix for buildings and water fountains, reducing water costs by roughly $75,000 annually. This project was made possible with assistance from SRP and with funding through an innovative loan program from the Arizona Community Foundation.

Reuse and Recycle


The Garden encounters a large variety of people on a daily basis as staff, volunteers, and visitors convene inside buildings and on the trails. At the Garden, we are growing the ways in which all people who share our space can reuse or recycle waste materials. Here are some of our efforts and ways you can join us:

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater is a precious commodity in the Sonoran Desert. In order to best utilize this resource, dedicated Garden staff are building bio-retention basins in the parking lot medians. These basins direct the rainwater to plants and at the same time filter out debris and pollution. This also means that puddles will be reduced in parking spaces when it rains! Our team will keep improving the drain structures in parking lots over the next several months to reduce flooding and increase rainwater collection.

For more information, see this Rainwater Harvesting Guide from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.




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Sustainability at Home

Kids-repurposing-items-article.jpgIf you have young people in your life, sustainability is a topic worth exploring. There are many definitions that exist, but it’s really about seeing the connections between healthy people, environments and economies. Put simply, making responsible decisions. It can be a daunting subject when you think about teaching a young person these concepts, but sustainability doesn’t have to be so complicated. The best way to engage kids in sustainability is to be a model for them in your daily lives. 

Here are a few ideas and discussion items for setting a great example:

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Night Bloomers

The night blooming cactus are beginning to flower. Pictured is an Easter Lily (Echinopsis sp.), which can be found throughout the Garden.

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