District News Articles

  2. Xeriscaping refers to the conservation of water through creative landscaping. Xeriscape, or water-wise landscaping, uses low-water-use plants to create a landscape that’s sustainable in Colorado’s semi-arid climate. Denver Water coined the word in 1981 to help make low-water-use landscaping an easily recognized concept. Xeriscape is a combination of the word "landscape" and the Greek word "xeros," which means dry. If designed properly, Xeriscape can be lush, colorful and easy to care for.
    Recent drought conditions and a renewed commitment to water conservation have prompted many metro-area homeowners and businesses to look for ways to reduce the amount of water they use on their yards.
    Fully Xeriscaping a yard can reduce its water needs by as much as 60 percent or more by following the Seven Principles of Xeriscape:
    1.     Planning & design – Creating a beautiful Xeriscape starts with creating a plan. Making a to-scale diagram of your property helps to identify what currently exists in your yard including the house, driveway and sidewalks, patios, trees, and other landscaping. Once this is done, you can develop a plan that includes how you want to design your Xeriscape and major features such as play areas or dog romps.
    2.     Soil improvements – Most Front Range soils are either sand or clay. Both of these soil types may need to have soil amendments such as organic materials added in order to better support plant life.
    3.     Efficient irrigation – Watering deeply and less frequently helps plants to develop deep roots. The best time to water is between 9:00 p.m. and 9:00 a.m. to avoid evaporation loss. Adjust irrigation systems for seasonal changes and avoid watering when it rains. If you are installing an irrigation system, include the system design in your landscape planning and design.
    4.     Zoning of plants – Plan your landscape according to the amount of light, wind, and moisture the different areas of your yard get. Group plants that have similar light and water requirements together.
    5.     Mulches – Mulching is essential for proper gardening in the Front Range. Mulch helps to keep plant roots cool, prevents soil from crusting, minimizes evaporation, and reduces weed growth.
    6.     Turf alternatives – Reducing your water use can be accomplished by using native or low water use turf. Traditional bluegrass turf is lush and hardy, but also uses substantial amounts of water to maintain. Alternative choices include buffalograss, blue grama grass, turf type tall fescue and fine fescues.
    7.     Appropriate maintenance – During the first year or two, Xeriscape landscaping will require a fair amount of weeding and proper watering to establish plants. Proper maintenance is always a necessity but over time maintenance and watering needs will decrease as your landscape matures.
    Xeriscape Benefits
    ·       Saves Water - Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50 - 75%.
    ·       Less Maintenance - Aside from occasional pruning and weeding, maintenance is minimal. Watering requirements are low, and can be met with simple irrigation systems.
    ·       No Fertilizers or Pesticides - Using plants native to your area will eliminate the need for chemical supplements. Sufficient nutrients are provided by healthy organic soil.
    ·       Improves Property Value - A good Xeriscape can raise property values which more than offset the cost of installation. Protect your landscaping investment by drought-proofing it.
    ·       Pollution Free - Fossil fuel consumption from gas mowers is minimized or eliminated with minimal turf areas. Small turf areas can be maintained with a reel mower.
    ·       Provides Wildlife Habitat - Use of native plants, shrubs and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for local wildlife.
    Resources and Xeriscape Demonstration Gardens
    Denver Water has several resources and Xeriscape plans that can assist you in retrofitting your yard as well as a demonstration garden that you can visit.
    Green Industries of Colorado (GreenCO) has produced an informative video Xeriscape is a System, Not a Garden, to introduce you to Xeriscape and explains why it’s a complete system, not just a garden.
    Platte Canyon also has a demonstration garden located at the District’s office building at 8739 W. Coal Mine Avenue, which serves as a model of the beauty, functionality and water use efficiency that can be achieved using Xeriscape gardening principles. The garden provides a setting where Platte Canyon District customers can view several types of arid landscape plants during various stages of growth in all seasons of the year.
    Available in the District office is the official guide to the garden, entitled Welcome to the Southwest Metropolitan & Platte Canyon Xeriscape™ Garden. This free brochure allows District customers to conduct a self-guided tour of the garden and includes a Plant Schedule which lists the various types of Xeriscape plantings exhibited, color pictures of some of the specimens in the garden, as well as a detailed color plant location map.
    To request Welcome to the Southwest Metropolitan & Platte Canyon Xeriscape™ Garden or to obtain further information on Xeriscape gardening, please contact Alyssa Quinn at 303-979-2333.