Environmentally Conscious FAQs to Share with Your Clients
Living in a dry climate not only results in dry skin, but dry yards, as well. While it’s tempting to turn on the hose more often or increase the amount of time for each sprinkler zone, the better choice is to change your clients’ approach to landscaping.
RELATED: Three Common Xeriscaping Myths
Q. What does “water conservation” mean? Why does it matter?
A. Water conservation does not mean foregoing water altogether, but instead using water as efficiently as possible to reduce unnecessary usage. Colorado’s Front Range is known for its semi-arid, high-desert climate – meaning moisture isn’t a guarantee, and quickly evaporates. Plus, the price of water has gone up in recent years, so not only is using water more efficiently smarter, since water is such a scarce resource, it’s also much better for your wallet. Landscaping that focuses on water conservation is known as “xeriscaping.”
Q. How do I add color to my landscape if I’m avoiding water?
A. Being conservative with water doesn’t mean you’re stuck living in a concrete jungle. There are many natural and man-made materials that can bring the colors of the Rocky Mountains to your outdoor spaces: Arizona Buff and Colorado Red flagstone; blacks, pinks, grays, and tans in decorative river rock or crushed granite; various greens in artificial turf; and, blues, browns, and reds in concrete pavers, block, and natural tile.
Q. Is artificial turf a good option?
A. Gone are the days when artificial turf made everyone’s yard look like a football field. Nowadays you can find varieties of turf in different colorways, different blade lengths and thicknesses, and different thatch colors to match the live turf in the surrounding area. As for the environmental benefits, artificial turf obviously doesn’t require water to stay green. Plus, you’ll avoid toxic chemicals like the ones found in weed killers commonly used on natural lawns. It’s easy to keep artificial turf cool in the summer months with a quick rinse off, and with the use of infill options that help cut down on the heat. Pet cleanup is easy as well – just pick up the solid waste, a quick rinse off, and you’re good to go!
Q. Are plants and flowers off the table?
A. Of course not! Choosing drought-tolerant plants that are rated for your area’s hardiness zone is your best choice to incorporate living elements into your xeriscape design plans. While your hardiness rating depends on the climate of where you live, it’s important to take note of other design elements to help determine whether or not you’re choosing plants that will thrive in the area. For example, while most of the Denver Metro is zone 5, buildings and concrete can heat things up, bringing your rating up to a zone 6. In fact, just placing large boulders or concrete walls in your garden could ramp up the temperature. The higher the zone number, the warmer the area, meaning plants need to be able to withstand hotter temperatures.
Q. What can I do to conserve as much as possible?
A. Sometimes there’s no getting around using water, even in a xeriscaped environment. To cut back on as much unnecessary usage as possible, follow these tips:
- Water your yard and gardens either early in the morning, or late at night, when there is less chance of the sun evaporating the moisture.
- Check the weather! If it’s going to rain, skip your watering for the day.
- Choose native plants, and those rated for your hardiness zone, to ensure minimal water is required for their upkeep.
- Place mulch around your plants, as it protects the ground to reduce evaporation, prevents erosion, and controls weeds.
- Utilize a rain barrel during storms to collect run off from your gutters to use in your gardens and yard.
- Avoid installing features that rely on running water, such as fountains, as the dry climate will quickly evaporate the moisture, causing frequent refills.
- Consider replacing your natural lawn with water-wise materials, like artificial turf or natural stone. Municipalities across the state are embracing xeriscaping, even offering rebates on turf replacement.
Water is a scarce resource in Colorado, but with planning and smart usage, it doesn’t need to be removed from the landscaping equation. With your help in guiding your clients’ projects, making the switch to water-wise landscapes will result not only in environmentally friendly outdoor spaces, but bring the Rocky Mountain beauty to more yards across the Front Range.