Xeriscape Garden Party#
Thank you for joining us for Xeriscape Garden Party during the month of June! Check out the recorded webinars and resources below.
Compost Bin and Rain Barrel Sale
Backyard composting is an excellent way to reduce trash going to landfills and supports healthy local soils. Rain barrels collect rainwater from your roof that can be used to water landscapes and gardens while reducing the number of pollutants entering our storm drains.
Habitat Hero: Wildscaping 101
Slides – Learn how you can conserve birds through native gardening.
Planting for Pollinators During Colorado Pollinator Month
Learn how to support native pollinators by providing native plants and a succession of blooms.
Xeriscape Blog Entries#
By Illeane Podolski, Colorado Master Gardener (Reprint from NoCo Bloom)
There are many preconceived ideas and myths about xeriscaping. These myths highlight some of the most common misconceptions of xeriscaping in Colorado.
This is not strictly true. But choosing plants that can grow well in the waterwise landscape with as little additional water as possible allows for their adaptability, requiring much less maintenance than the plants in a typical traditional garden. There will still be some maintenance, such as dividing perennials, weeding, spacing, or removing vigorous plants, replacing mulch, and pruning. Smaller turf areas requiring less water will mean less mowing and less fertilizing.
Xeriscape is not “Zero-scape.” It is not a dry and dusty environment with no water and only rocks. These xeric gardens are full of life with small creatures, insects, colorful flowers, both native and non-native, ornamental grasses, shrubs, and trees. Many flowers that grow well in xeric gardens produce nectar to attract insects and bees. Gardening with less water doesn’t mean waterwise gardens are desert-like.
Xeric gardens offer year-round interest! There are many visual pleasures in these landscapes such as plants in colorful combinations, grasses, shrubs, textures of mulch and gravel, and interesting rocks. Garden sculptures and statues can also be added.
Boulders and rocks do add structure and height to any garden, but they don’t have to be the focal point of the xeriscape. Waterwise gardens depend on the principles of design, just as other types of garden landscapes. Our drier climate gardens have evolved from this image of rocks, cactus, and gravel use. There is a wider availability of native and adapted plant material from high altitude dry climates, as well as various mulches, that make the xeric garden more about the plants than rocks, cactus, and gravel.
Native plants have adapted and tolerate the intermountain and high plains gardens, but there are many types of plants, shrubs and trees for xeric landscaping. Nurseries and the Plant Select® program have helped offer gardeners so many plant choices. They range from colorful to more subtle. Annuals that require less water can be mixed in seasonally as well.
Native Plants and Water Q&A#
By Katie Collins, Fort Collins Utilities
Native plants are the stars of the water-wise garden. With careful planning and diligent establishment watering, natives can save water (and time spent watering!) for years to come.
A: Certainly–this is where planning is crucial. Just as full-sun plants are grouped with other full-sun plants in a design, place plants with similar water needs together. This is known as ‘hydrozoning.’ A hydrozoned landscape prevents under- and over-watering.
A: Absolutely! Any freshly planted plant–whether tree or grass, native or not–needs regular watering in the first year, no exceptions. In year two, it is critical to gradually reduce frequency of watering.
A: Do a little research to understand where the native plants originated. For example, native plants found near bodies of water indicate a need for more supplemental water in the home landscape. That doesn’t mean digging a pond in the backyard; instead, consider placing moderate water users in spots where moisture is more abundant, such as near downspouts or not far from a hose spigot. Native plants that originated in dry locations are adapted to dry conditions and may not need any supplemental water once established.
Low-Water Plants to Consider for Your Landscape#
Poppymallow blooms nearly all season long and can cover a lot of ground, outcompeting weeds while providing a beautiful show. 1’H x 4-5’W
Standing 3 to 4 feet tall, Switchgrass is a stately addition to the landscape. These delicate seed heads dance gracefully in the wind and are lovely against a Colorado sunset backdrop. 2-3’W x 3-4’ H
Native and delicious? Check and check. Golden currants have attractive yellow blooms in spring and attractive fall foliage. These plants require a bit more water, so locate them near a gutter downspout. Try to grab a taste of the sweet berries before the birds do! 4’ W x 6’ H
A perennial that provides bountiful flowers for a long bloom season. Sea holly has open umbels of prickly steel blue flowers that can reach 36 inches in height. A very hardy species with a Hardiness Zone of 4-9, it’s perfect for Northern Colorado gardens in that it tolerates hot, dry sites and poor soils, even those high in salts.
Joe Pye weed can grow up to six feet tall with strong stems that hold crowned clusters of bright pink flowers in late summer and are magnets for dozens of species of butterflies.
Swamp milkweed grows upright about two to three feet with slender, willow-like leaves topped with round, pink-to-rose-colored flower clusters. This perennial variety is known to attract many native butterflies and bees and is important in feeding Monarch caterpillars.
Xeriscape Incentive Program (XIP)
A comprehensive, education-based program offering Fort Collins Utilities residential water customers a rebate for transforming a pre-approved high-water use area to a water-wise landscape.
From turf selection to mulch and landscape design to inspiration, this page has all the resources needed to complete xeriscape projects.
Xeriscape Garden Tour
View an interactive plant list with photos and filter options.
Residential Sprinkler Equipment Rebates
New technology is available to help make sprinkler systems more water-efficient. Fort Collins Utilities offers rebates on qualifying equipment.
A free sprinkler checkup helps you save water by using your sprinkler system more effectively.
These designers and contractors have learned the ins and outs of the Xeriscape Incentive Program and are ready to help you achieve a water-saving landscape.
Xeriscape demonstration gardens showcase the methods, plants and materials for low-water gardening. By implementing the principles of xeriscape, several demonstration gardens in the region serve as good examples for how to grow more with less in our semi-arid climate.