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Low Water Landscape

With much of Colorado experiencing drought conditions, residents may be interested in ways they can reduce the water they use for their landscaping. Small changes can save a lot of water which reduces demand and can save you money. 

 Tips for reducing outdoor water use

  1. Wait to water lawns. Don't turn on sprinklers too early in the season. Leaving lawns dormant longer will save water, and will not compromise the longevity of your lawn.  April is too early to go automatic, plan on programming your sprinkler system to start in May or June. Hand-water trees and plants as needed – trees offer many benefits such as shade and habitat, and are often greatly impacted by drought, make sure to keep an eye out on your tree health and water them when needed. 

  2. Water less frequently.  Watering twice a week will make grass roots grow deeper and allow the grass to last longer without water. Cycling sprinkler system run times can prevent excess water runoff, visual inspections after an initial watering cycle will make this apparent. Instead of setting each zone to water for 15 minutes, set each zone to water for five minutes, every hour, for a few hours and adjust accordingly.  Colorado soils are less-absorptive than many other areas, excessive watering creates wasteful runoff.   

  3. Water in the evening, night or early morning.  Watering landscapes in the early morning or at night will help reduce water loss. During the daytime heat, less water will be available to plants due to loss from evaporation and wind. 

  4. When it rains, water accordingly. Watch the weather and adjust watering days and times accordingly. Use soil moisture sensors to automatically adjust  watering schedules when it rains. As a less accurate option, use rain sensors to stop sprinklers when it rains. Consider installing a WaterSense Smart Irrigation Controller. 

  5. Let grass grow longer before cutting it. Raise lawn mower blades and protect lawns from heat by letting grass grow longer (3-3.5”.  A taller lawn provides shade to the roots and helps retain soil moisture, so your lawn requires less water.

  6. Water lawns, plants and trees - not roads and sidewalks. Prior to installing a costly chase drain or other solution, request an irrigation audit. In our arid environment there should be no need to divert irrigation water. Sweep driveways and sidewalks with a broom instead of spraying with a hose – but please not down the storm drain or into the street gutter. Hand-water, deep root water, or drip irrigate trees, shrubs, bushes, perennial beds, annual flowers and vegetable gardens. Always use a shut-off nozzle on your hose when watering plants.

  7. Fix leaks. Check your sprinkler system monthly for broken sprinkler heads and damaged irrigation lines. Hire a professional to conduct a sprinkler assessment. A well maintained system will save both money and water. 

  8. Plan ahead and plan efficiently. If possible, delay new lawn installations for a non-drought year (even water-wise gardens require more water to get established) and avoid planting during the mid-summer heat. Incorporate water-wise plants and turf when planning landscape renovations or installations.

Resources for learning about low water landscaping 

  • Resource Central: The City of Arvada partners with Resource Central to offer Waterwise Landscaping Seminars and discounts on the popular Garden in a Box products. Resource Central is a great source for tips and inspiration as you go low water outside. 
  • Plant Select: Plant Select® is the country’s leading brand of plants designed to thrive in high plains and intermountain regions, offering plants that provide more beauty with less work. Their website contains education and design resources as well as places to purchase Plant Select plants. 
  • Colorado State University Extension: CSU Extension provides many online resources to support residents in creating healthy, sustainable lawns and gardens. 
  • Demonstration gardens: There are many demonstration gardens in the region that can inspire you to make changes to your home landscape. Majestic View Nature Center is in Arvada. There is a Plant Select demonstration garden at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Other locations such as Denver Botanic Gardens, Chatfield Gardens and Hudson Gardens have areas dedicated to showcasing native, low water plants. 

 

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