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A perfect time to rethink your yard. (That would be now)

Changing seasons, changing landscapes: How to turn your yard into a water-efficient urban oasis.


If you have spring fever, now’s the time to start planning before you plant.

When thinking about your landscape this spring, what would you like your yard to look like? More shade for the kids? More patio space? More decorative plants?

“Spring is a great time to rethink your landscape,” said Mark Cassalia, Denver Water conservation specialist. “Walk your property, think about what you’d really like, and start planning for spring.”

Park Hill resident Amy Wright agrees. A firm believer in landscape planning, she designed her own water-efficient yard.

The plants in Amy Wright's yard attract a variety of butterflies, birds and bees.

“We had two kids grow up here, and we found the grass was rarely used,” Wright said. “So we started planning and changed our yard into a landscape full of color, shade and natural beauty.”

Wright’s yard features butterflies, ornamental grasses, bushes, flowers, trees and a cactus area.

“We found that by changing our landscape, we opened up our yard for all kinds of fun and creative things,” she said. “Most people find it hard to believe we hardly use any water on the landscape.”

Amy’s landscape uses about 90 percent less water compared to a yard of the same size that’s mostly grass.

“Amy’s garden landscape may not work for everyone, but it demonstrates how homeowners can redesign their yards to custom-fit their family’s needs and save water at the same time,” Cassalia said.

The 2002 drought changed attitudes about landscapes across Colorado, leading nurseries and garden centers to fill their aisles with more diverse options.

Now that the landscape has been established, Wright's landscape requires almost no watering.

“The increase in variety of plants available has allowed homeowners to create beautiful landscapes that work in our semi-arid climate,” Cassalia said. “The turf industry has also developed more low-water alternatives that look like bluegrass, but are much more water-efficient.”

Early spring is also a good time to amend your soil before you begin planting anything new.

Wright encourages anyone considering changing their landscape to read books and attend classes to get ideas for creating a water-saving yard they will enjoy.

“We get to enjoy nature all year long,” Wright said. “It feels great knowing we’re saving water, and we still have a great place to live.”