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Sustainable Landscapes: 5 Designs to Consider

Coloradoans love being outside! Along with that love for the outdoors comes an increased awareness of the importance of sustainable solutions. More and more, homeowners are looking for environmentally responsible landscape designs and maintenance practices. Whether using Colorado native plants or irrigation smart controllers, there are a variety of ways to reduce our carbon footprint locally and globally. Remember that sustainable design is not an all-or-nothing proposition; even making small changes can make a big difference.


The term “xeriscape” was coined by Denver Water in 1981; they say xeriscape landscaping promotes water efficiency by using plants that are native and adaptable to Colorado's semi-arid climate. The word is a combination of "landscape" and the Greek word "xeros," which means dry.” Elements of xeric landscaping include plan and design; soil amendment; efficient irrigation; appropriate plant and zone selection; mulch; limited turf areas and maintenance.


Using programmable or “smart” controllers can produce substantial water savings; you can use the smart controller to check irrigation from a smart phone, and integrate landscape controllers with a home automated system.


LED lighting with transformers can be zoned throughout the yard/landscape, and dimmable lights provide a longer life cycle. This in turn results in a savings of both cost and resources.


Consider bee farming, both for honey and to encourage bee population growth, along with roof top gardens or living roofs to reduce heat sink in urban areas. Incorporate herbs and vegetables in perennial gardens, and take advantage of community gardens/crop sharing.


Utilizing permeable pavers can substantially reduce runoff and filters pollutants from the water. These pavers are created with a layer of concrete (or other solid material) separated by joints filled with small stones; water enters the joints, which provides the filtering process. It’s a smart, efficient and sustainable way to enjoy the benefits of a paved surface.

LeAnn Ostheimer is a senior designer with Lifescape Colorado, a Denver-based design, construction and maintenance landscape architecture firm. View their profile or reach LeAnn at 303-831-8310.

Content for this article provided by Lifescape Colorado.

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