Xeriscape: Concept coined in Denver has flowered here

A quarter-century back, in the middle of a drought in Colorado, the term "xeriscape" was coined. Denver Water, the water utility for the city and county of Denver, was attempting to promote a landscaping viewpoint in tune with the semiarid climate of Colorado when they crunched together the word "landscape" and the Greek word "xeros" (suggesting "dry"). Denver Water likewise developed seven principles of xeriscape: planning and style, restricting turf locations, selecting and zoning plants properly, improving the soil, utilizing mulches, irrigating efficiently and doing proper upkeep.

Some Coloradans scoffed. Some ridiculed the concept as "zero-scaping" and thought it was essentially a method to create a wasteland of rocks and cactus.

Others couldn't release their lawns. For decades, Front Range property owners rolled out expansive green carpets of sod as if they had sufficient rainfall and an ocean outside their towns.

The prospect of xeriscape gardening settling appeared slim, however Mother Nature forced a few changes. Now, 25 years and a number of superdry seasons later, local property owners are adopting the principle quicker than ever.

They aren't the only ones. The principles of water-wise gardening have spread to places not generally considered water-starved: the East Coast, England - even Japan. The strange term invented by Denver Water is now used around the world as a generic word for water-wise gardening.

Obstacles to progress remain - even where xeriscaping began.


The seven principles of xeriscape took a years to amble down Interstate 25 to Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs Utilities planted its Xeriscape Demonstration Garden in 1991 at 2855 Mesa Road, and the ideas started to blossom in the area.

" About 15 years ago I started hearing it," stated Shane Bunker, owner of Scenic View Professional Landscape for 23 years. "Before that, landscaping was junipers, pine trees and sod whatever. I keep in mind apartment-complex sprinklers that never ever turned off; they simply ran 24 hours a day in the summer."

Steve Loy, owner of Sun Maintenance Service Inc., has comparable memories.

" Fifteen years ago, sod was rolled out onto the finished grade of new building and construction, and that was standard," Loy said. "It didn't matter since you were going to water seven days a week anyway."

Loy was an early transform to xeriscape and ended up offering at the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. The garden was still young when Ann Seymour took control of as conservation manager in 1994.

" The garden, when I came, was simply three years of ages, and the plants were filling in and growing up," Seymour stated. "The garden and the program remained in their infancy."

Seymour ran the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden till 2004 and saw the garden fill out - in regards to plants and popularity.

However, it took another push by Mother Nature to require more individuals to adopt xeric principles.


In 2001 another dry spell struck Colorado, and xeriscape progressed like a field of cosmos.

" When the drought initially started, I believed my organisation would disappear," landscaper Bunker stated, "and I had the very best year of organisation ever in 2001."

Bunker used to install rock, sod and sprinklers once again and again. All of a sudden, people desired large patio areas, recirculating water functions and perennialplant beds.

" Ever given that the drought took place, landscape has become a lot more fun," he said. "There's so much more variety. People are investing more loan on plants now than sod."

Loy stated the large majority of his organisation is transforming yards to xeric landscapes. visite site

" The dry spell actually brought this whole thing to a head," Loy stated. "Most of our business in the past 5 years has actually been restorations of residential or commercial properties - we get massive amounts of sod."

He typically turns 5,000-squarefeet of sod into 1,000-squarefeet of sod, utilizing the freed-up area for outdoor household spaces, fire pits and perennialgarden beds.

" They're rich and plush and green, and the water use on those residential or commercial properties is way, method down," Loy stated.

Loy said many of his customers are well-read about xeriscape, a change from simply five years earlier. They know the upfront expenses of xeriscape will be greater, however they'll conserve cash on water and maintenance in the long run. He estimates that 50 percent to 75 percent of his customers have checked out the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, and many have taken classes.

That's music to the ears of Ann Seymour. As sod around the city turned brown, the presentation garden looked great, and property owners noticed.

" I was enjoyed see how it grew in those dry, hot years," Seymour stated. "It was a method to prove to the world that exactly what we have been informing them is real. It readies practice that makes sense in Colorado." And 3 years of watering limitations may have changed some routines permanently.

" Gallons-per-capita consumption tells us that consumers are not watering as much today as they remained in 2001," Seymour stated.

IMAGES COURTESY OF WWW.DENVERWATER.ORG This home is showcased on the Denver Water Web site as an example of a xeriscape remodeling. This image reveals the Denver house before it was landscaped in the mid- '90s.

This photo from the Denver Water Web site shows the home after it was landscaped using xeriscape principles.


Although xeriscape has actually captured on, some Coloradans still cannot shake the "zeroscape" image of rocks and yuccas. In some locations, water conservationists are utilizing the terms "water-wise" or "intelligent landscaping" so they don't have to choose up that luggage.

Many people in the location, nevertheless, realize the possibilities available with xeriscaping. Part of the shift remains in perception, but in big part the truth has actually altered.

Landscapers who hadn't heard of xeriscaping 15 years ago now know how to create a lovely xeric yard. Ideas have germinated as presentation gardens develop and individuals attempt more things. A lot more plants are readily available as programs such as Colorado's Plant Select establish and promote plants that succeed in this area.

Water-conservation advocates agree that the foundation of broadening the xeriscape revolution is education. Beyond that, they see numerous opportunities for growth.

Loy wishes to see federal government regulations on landscaping to require smarter practices.

" I actually think the city has actually got to come up with with a landscape ordinance or a watering regulation, something that keeps the philosophy that we are a semiarid location going forward," Loy stated. "We require a community plan that says all of us recognize we have actually restricted water and our landscapes must reflect that."

Colorado Springs Utilities has achieved that, in part, with a graduated water rate that penalizes heavy users. However Loy and Bunker both know customers who would invest $1,000 a month to keep their carpets of grass green.

Amongst water-conservation specialists, the big style is satisfying individuals where they are, aiming to make incremental progress. Keep the yard, maybe, but change the soil and make certain the sprinkler is effective.

They think that gradually, nearly all members of the community will develop a watervation principles. Colorado Springs Utilities, in fact, is depending on water conservation as part of its long-lasting strategic strategy.

" The old slogan is, Every drop counts,' stated Scott Winter, water-conservation specialist at the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. "It really is something that people have to treasure and worth."

And, of course, a dry spell never ever harms when you're attempting to own that point home.


So, if xeriscaping isn't all rock and cactus, then what is it? Here are a couple of locations to find exactly what this xeriscape thing is everything about.

Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, 2855 Mesa Road. Started in 1991, this two-acre-plus garden is mature and gorgeous. See for an idea of the possibilities of xeriscaping. Also have a look at http://www.csu. org/wa/xeri/ xeriscape.jsp to see what's planted at the garden and how the plants have actually performed.

Cottonwood Creek Park Xeriscape Garden. Planted in late May, this small demonstration garden is the brand-new kid on the block.

Web sites with good xeriscape info:
Colorado Springs Utilities, http://www.csu.org
Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, http://www.alcc.com
Plant Select, http://www.plantselect.org
Denver Water, http://www.water.denver.co.gov
The Colorado WaterWise Council, http://www.xeriscape.org
High Country Gardens, http://www.highcountrygardens.com; http://www.wateruseitwisely.com.


Cannot picture how to produce a xeriscape garden that's more than rock and cactus? Have a look at the 6 Pikes Peakarea house gardens on the 2006 Xeriscape Garden Tour this weekend.

- The trip takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Start at either 1222 La Paloma Way or 12 West Point Road in Colorado Springs to get your ticket and map to the other gardens.

- A host and Master Gardener will be available at each garden to respond to questions about xeriscaping and provide ideas.

- The Colorado Springs-area tours become part of a bigger program sponsored by the Colorado Federation of Garden Clubs. Gardens in Arvada and Boulder/Longmont were featured in trips in June.

Delight Kancir, vice president of the federation and chairwoman of this year's tour, stated gardens concern the group's attention through Master Gardeners, gardeners, landscapers and other information sources.

"They're selected for academic purposes - those that have a different method and feel about them, so individuals can see that xeriscape can be very colorful and gorgeous," she said.

Where do I start?

This is Colorado Springs Utilities' prepare for getting started on a xeric landscape. For more comprehensive information on each action, check out http://www.csu.org/environment/xeriscape/howto/index.html.

Action 1: Creating a Base Plan - Create an illustration of your existing landscape to help picture the locations of your house and how they connect to one another.

Action 2: Site Analysis - Evaluate current conditions utilizing a breathtaking picture and a site inventory.

Action 3: Use Analysis - Determine your requirements and wants for the new landscape.

Step 4: Schematic Planning - Decide where specific-use locations will be.

Step 5: Master Planning - Pull together all your work in Steps 1 through 4 in a last style plan you will use to produce your illustrations in Steps 6 and 7.

Step 6: Planting Plan - Choose plants to fit your master strategy.

Step 7: Irrigation Plan - Design the watering system to fit your master strategy.

Step 8: Phasing in the Landscape Design - Decide what must be done simultaneously, what sequence to follow and what can be done in the longer term.

Step 9: Maintaining the Landscape - Commit to taking care of your new xeriscapeinspired landscape.

Xeriscaped areas can be just as rich or more rich than routine lawns, and your water bill will be considerably lower.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *