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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.

Recorded Webinars#

butterfly on native plant

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.


Installing drip line

Converting Your Irrigation System: Spray to Drip

Slides – Learn how to convert an existing sprinkler turf zone into a drip system to save up to 20,000 gallons of water annually.


Xeriscape Blog Entries#

Xeriscape Myths#

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.

Myth 1: Xeriscaping is “no maintenance” gardening

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.

Myth 2: Xeriscaping gardening is like a moonscape or desert

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.

Myth 3: Xeriscape gardens are boring

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.

Myth 4: Without rocks, cactus, and gravel you can’t have a xeriscape

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.

Myth 5: Only native plants thrive in xeriscaping

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.

Q: Can I mix natives with non-native plants in the garden?

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.

Q: Do I need to water new native plants?

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. 

Q: How much should I water my established native plants?

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#

Purple Poppymallow (Callirhoe involucrata)
Purple Poppymallow

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

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

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

Golden Currant (Ribes aureum var. aureum)
Golden currant

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

Sea Holly (Eryngium planum ‘Blue Cap’)

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 (Eupatorium maculatum)

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 (Asclepias incarnata)

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.


Spigot to Dripline

Working with Drip

Hand Watering

Mulching the Landscape


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.

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Xeriscape Resources

From turf selection to mulch and landscape design to inspiration, this page has all the resources needed to complete xeriscape projects.

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Xeriscape Garden Tour

Take a self-guided tour of sustainable landscapes in Fort Collins. Projects highlighted participated in either the Nature in the City or Xeriscape Incentive Program, or both!

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Plant List

View an interactive plant list with photos and filter options.

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Residential Sprinkler Equipment Rebates

New technology is available to help make sprinkler systems more water-efficient. Fort Collins Utilities offers rebates on qualifying equipment.

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Sprinkler Checkups

A free sprinkler checkup helps you save water by using your sprinkler system more effectively.

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Xeriscape Professionals

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.

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Demonstration Gardens

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.

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Garden In A Box

Do-it-yourself kits from Resource Central come with 15 to 30 starter plants, a comprehensive Plant and Care Guide, and one to three plant-by-number maps.

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Questions? Email

Did You Know?

Fats, oils and grease can clog the pipes in your home and the City’s wastewater system. Don’t put them down the drain. Toss them instead.

Small leaks and drips add up. Don't drip and drive.

Stormwater pollution is the number one cause of water pollution in the country, and you can help prevent it.