Xeriscape: Concept coined in Denver has flowered here

A quarter-century earlier, in the middle of a drought in Colorado, the term "xeriscape" was created. Denver Water, the water energy for the city and county of Denver, was attempting to promote a landscaping approach in tune with the semiarid environment of Colorado when they crunched together the word "landscape" and the Greek word "xeros" (indicating "dry"). Denver Water likewise developed 7 principles of xeriscape: planning and style, limiting turf locations, selecting and zoning plants properly, improving the soil, using mulches, watering efficiently and doing suitable maintenance.

Some Coloradans scoffed. Some ridiculed the idea as "zero-scaping" and thought it was basically a method to produce a wasteland of rocks and cactus.

Others could not release their yards. For decades, Front Range homeowners presented expansive green carpets of sod as if they had ample rainfall and an ocean outside their towns.

The prospect of xeriscape gardening taking root appeared slim, however Mother Nature forced a couple of modifications. Now, 25 years and numerous superdry seasons later on, regional property owners are adopting the idea much faster than ever.

They aren't the only ones. The concepts of water-wise gardening have actually infected locations not normally thought about water-starved: the East Coast, England - even Japan. The strange term created by Denver Water is now utilized around the world as a generic word for water-wise gardening.

Yet challenges to progress remain - even where xeriscaping started.


The 7 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 began to bloom in the location.

" 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 everything. I remember apartment-complex sprinklers that never shut down; they just ran 24 hours a day in the summertime."

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

" Fifteen years back, sod was rolled out onto the completed grade of new building, which was standard," Loy said. "It didn't matter because you were going to water seven days a week anyhow."

Loy was an early transform to xeriscape and ended up volunteering 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 just 3 years old, and the plants were completing and growing up," Seymour said. "The garden and the program were in their infancy."

Seymour ran the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden up until 2004 and saw the garden fill out - in regards to plants and appeal.

It took another push by Mother Nature to force more individuals to embrace xeric concepts.


In 2001 another drought struck Colorado, and xeriscape blossomed like a field of universes.

" When the dry spell initially started, I thought my service would disappear," landscaper Bunker stated, "and I had the very best year of company ever in 2001."

Bunker used to set up rock, sod and sprinklers again and again. Suddenly, people wanted large patios, recirculating water features and perennialplant beds.

" Ever since the dry spell took place, landscape has actually become a lot more enjoyable," he said. "There's so much more variety. People are spending more cash on plants now than sod."

Loy stated the huge majority of his company is converting yards to xeric landscapes.

" The dry spell truly brought this whole thing to a head," Loy said. "Most of our business in the previous five years has actually been restorations of residential or commercial properties - we take out huge amounts of sod."

He typically turns 5,000-squarefeet of sod into 1,000-squarefeet of sod, using the freed-up area for outside living room, fire pits and perennialgarden beds.

" They're lush and plush and green, and the water usage on those homes is way, way down," Loy said.

Loy said the majority of his customers are well-read about xeriscape, a change from just five years back. They know the upfront expenses of xeriscape will be greater, however they'll save money on water and maintenance in the long run. He approximates that 50 percent to 75 percent of his customers have actually 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 demonstration garden looked great, and property owners noticed.

" I was thrilled to see how it prospered in those dry, hot years," Seymour stated. And three years of watering restrictions may have changed some habits permanently.

" Gallons-per-capita consumption informs us that clients are not watering as much today as they remained in 2001," Seymour said.

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

This image from the Denver Water Web website shows your house after it was landscaped using xeriscape principles.


Xeriscape has caught on, some Coloradans still can't shake the "zeroscape" image of rocks and yuccas. In some places, water conservationists are using the terms "water-wise" or "smart landscaping" so they do not have to get that baggage.

The majority of individuals in the location, nevertheless, realize the possibilities offered with xeriscaping. Part of the shift remains in understanding, but in large part the truth has actually altered.

Landscapers who had not become aware of xeriscaping 15 years back now know ways to produce a lovely xeric yard. Concepts have germinated as presentation gardens grow and people attempt more things. Much more plants are readily available as programs such as Colorado's Plant Select establish and promote plants that prosper in this region.

Water-conservation supporters agree that the cornerstone of expanding the xeriscape transformation is education. However beyond that, they see a number of avenues for development.

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

" I truly believe the city has got to create with a landscape ordinance or a watering ordinance, something that keeps the approach that we are a semiarid area going forward," Loy stated. "We need a community strategy that says we all realize we have restricted water and our landscapes need to show that."

Colorado Springs Utilities has actually attained that, in part, with a finished water rate that punishes heavy users. But Loy and Bunker both understand clients who would invest $1,000 a month to keep their carpets of yard green.

Among water-conservation experts, the huge theme is satisfying people where they are, trying to make incremental development. Keep the grass, possibly, but amend the soil and make certain the sprinkler is effective.

They think that slowly, nearly all members of the neighborhood will develop a watervation ethic. Colorado Springs Utilities, in reality, is depending on water conservation as part of its long-lasting tactical plan.

" The old motto is, Every drop counts,' stated Scott Winter, water-conservation professional at the Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. "It really is something that individuals need to treasure and worth."

And, obviously, a drought never injures when you're attempting to drive that point home.


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

Xeriscape Demonstration Garden, 2855 Mesa Road. Started in 1991, this two-acre-plus garden is mature and stunning.

Cottonwood Creek Park Xeriscape Garden. Planted in late May, this small demonstration garden is the new arrival. Found south of the park's leisure center and swimming pool, the website is developed to serve the northern and eastern areas of town. It will require time for the brand-new garden to submit. The garden will be tended almost totally by volunteers; to offer, call 668-4555.

Web websites with great xeriscape details:
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.


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

- The tour occurs 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 obtain your ticket and map to the other gardens. The $15 ticket is excellent for both days, so you can do the tour at your own speed. You can also get an electronic ticket at regional King Soopers stores and exchange it for a tour ticket and map at one of the two beginning addresses.

- A host and Master Gardener will be available at each garden to answer concerns about xeriscaping and supply concepts.

- The Colorado Springs-area tours become part of a larger 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 trip, stated gardens come to the group's attention through Master Gardeners, horticulturists, landscapers and other details sources.

"They're picked for instructional functions - those that have a different method and feel about them, so people can see that xeriscape can be extremely vibrant and lovely," she said.

Where do I begin?

This is Colorado Springs Utilities' prepare for starting on a xeric landscape. For more comprehensive details on each step, see http://www.csu.org/environment/xeriscape/howto/index.html.

Step 1: Creating a Base Plan - Create a drawing of your existing landscape to assist imagine the locations of your home or business and how they relate to one another.

Step 2: Site Analysis - Evaluate status quo using a scenic image and a website 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 design strategy you will utilize to produce your drawings in Steps 6 and 7.

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

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

Step 8: Phasing in the Landscape Design - Decide exactly what must be done at as soon as, what sequence to follow and exactly what can be performed in the longer term.

this link Step 9: Maintaining the Landscape - Commit to caring for your brand-new xeriscapeinspired landscape.

Xeriscaped areas can be simply as lavish or more lush than routine lawns, and your water costs will be significantly lower.

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