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Xeriscape Garden Party#

The in-person Xeriscape Garden Party is back and we're partnering with the Pollinator Plant Swap!#

We are excited to have an in-person event this year on Saturday, June 18, as well as some virtual events like we did in 2021. 

laptop open with coffee cup nearby

LEARN

Join the celebration virtually!

  • Weekly webinars with expert speakers
  • Water-wise gardening tips and resources
  • Compost bin and rain barrel sales
  • Prize giveaways

Check out the details below.

welcome sign at a previous garden party

PARTY

Can't wait to see you in-person at our downtown Xeriscape Demonstration Garden for interactive vendors, local resources, live art demonstrations, family-friendly activities and more!

Saturday, June 18
9 a.m.-noon
300 Laporte Ave.

group looking at available plants for plant swap

SWAP

New this year: Pollinator Plant Swap
Dig up, divide and donate pollinator plants grown free of chemicals from your garden. No plants to swap? No problem! You do not need to donate to take plants home.

If you're planning to donate plants, please review the guidelines here.

Free Webinars#

butterfly on native plant

Habitat Hero: Wildscaping 101

Tuesday, June 7, noon-1 p.m.

Presented by: Jamie Weiss, Audubon Rockies

One of the biggest bird conservation threats is habitat loss. To address this, the Habitat Hero program provides people, businesses and cities with the resources to create bird habitats in their own communities. By planting bird-friendly gardens with native plants, not only are we creating more beautiful and water-efficient communities, we’re connecting people to nature. Learn how you can conserve birds through native gardening.

Register

Installing drip line

Converting Your Irrigation System: Spray to Drip

Wednesday, June 29, noon-1 p.m.

Presented by: Eric Olson, Fort Collins Utilities

Have you considered converting a turf spray zone to a drip system? Learn how to convert an existing sprinkler turf zone into a drip system to save up to 20,000 gallons of water annually, support pollinators and a create an attractive landscape. During this class, you will explore how to convert your existing turf to a drip garden from design through installation and what technology is available to assist you in the process.

Register

Planting for Pollinators During Colorado Pollinator Month

Thursday, June 23, noon

Hosted by: People and Pollinators Action Network

One of the best ways to support native pollinators is to provide a variety of pollinator-safe native plants and a succession of blooms throughout the growing season. During this webinar, a panel of experts will discuss the best sources for regionally appropriate plants and pesticide-free plants and seeds, ideas for plants that will enhance habitat, ways to expand habitat in your community, garden design ideas, and best practices, and tips for gardening.

Register

Xeriscape Blog Entries#

Xeriscape Mythshighlight_off

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&Ahighlight_off

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.

Perennials & Annuals for Pollinatorshighlight_off

By: Kelly Kellow, Horticulturist, the Gardens on Spring Creek (Reprint from NoCo Bloom)

One of the best sights to see in the springtime are active honeybees buzzing around, hopping from flower to flower and collecting pollen for their upcoming broods. It means that summer is coming, and the bountiful smells and brilliant colors of perennials await. Even the most novice gardener can help create foraging and nesting sites for many pollinators by selecting plants that butterflies and moths, beetles, and even flies, love. When selecting the elements of your garden, it’s best to include plants of varying shapes, sizes and species to cater to all pollinators. Perennials are one of the more important plants to integrate into your garden to provide an ongoing source of food for pollinators. Sea holly (Eryngium planum ‘Blue Cap’) is 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. If you have areas that are rich and moist, Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) and swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) are also great selections. As Colorado native plants, both create a naturalistic look to any garden. Joe Pye weed can grow up to six feet tall with strong stems that hold crowned clusters of bright pink flower 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.

Annuals and herbs are season extenders for many gardens and can be planted among perennials and in containers. When selecting annuals to attract pollinators, consider sweet alyssum, torch tithonia (also called Mexican sunflowers), zinnia, Verbena bonariensis and cleome. These annuals perform best in full sun and well-drained soil. Herbs are not only great culinarily plants, but their long-lasting flowers provide a great food source for pollinators. Add sage, different types of mint, oregano and dill into a perennial herb garden. Dill is great for pickles and is a food source for swallowtail caterpillars.

Basil, lemon verbena and pineapple sage are tender annual herbs that provide long bloom times and abundant flowers for extended foraging periods. While these species will over winter, but they could be dug up and brought inside for winter color and flavor. There are many more annuals, herbs and perennials that pollinators love – especially those with bright flowers. By working to intentionally incorporating these into your garden, you will create a long season of blooms for pollinators of all kinds.

Three Low-Water Native Plants to Consider in Your Landscape#

Purple Poppymallow (Callirhoe involucrata)highlight_off
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)highlight_off
Switchgrass

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)highlight_off
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

Videos#

Spigot to Dripline

Working with Drip

Hand Watering

Mulching the Landscape

Resources#

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.

Learn More

Xeriscape Resources

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

Learn More

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More

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.

Learn More

Additional Resources#


Questions? Email xeriscape@fcgov.com.


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