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Creating a ColoradoScape

Denver Water workshop covers water-wise plants, fruit-bearing trees and bushes — and pollinators too!

Water-wise landscapes? That incorporate fruit-bearing trees and bushes? And include pollinator-friendly elements? 

That’s what dozens of people learned about at Denver Water’s “PLANT-astic Perennials: Low-water and Native Plants 101” workshop held April 11 at the utility’s Operations Complex near downtown.

Denver Water’s April 11 water-wise landscaping workshop drew dozens of people to the utility’s Operations Complex to learn about creating stunning, drought-tolerant ColoradoScapes that thrive in our semi-arid climate. Photo credit: Denver Water.

It was the first of Denver Water’s planned workshops on water-wise landscaping and follows the utility’s support for transforming landscapes across the metro area. 

“We have a goal to reduce 30% of the nonfunctional turf grass in our service area. We’re talking about the water-intensive grass that you can see in traffic medians, grass that’s not being used for parks or other activities, grass that’s only visited to be mowed on,” Bea Stratton, a water conservation planner at Denver Water, told the group.

Learn how to transform bland expanses of water-thirsty Kentucky bluegrass into a diverse, water-wise ColoradoScape

The workshops are part of a larger Denver Water effort to support the transformation of bland expanses of water-thirsty Kentucky bluegrass in the utility’s service area into ColoradoScapes that use less water, offer cooling shade, and fit naturally into Denver’s semi-arid climate.

Bea Stratton, a water conservation planner at Denver Water, shares updates at the utility’s April 11 landscape transformation workshop. Photo credit: Denver Water.

Denver Water has partnered with Resource Central to offer its customers a limited number of discounts on the popular Garden In A Box plant-by-number kits and turf removal services. The utility also offers tips for ColoradoScaping and conserving water outdoors, including water-wise garden designs at

Participants at Denver Water’s April workshop heard from speakers who focused on different elements of ColoradoScaping, the creation of diverse, drought-tolerant landscapes that offer year-round interest. 

Learn more about saving water indoors and out at

The workshop featured: 

Ross Shrigley, the executive director of Plant Select, a nonprofit collaboration of Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and professional horticulturists. Plant Select is dedicated to finding, testing and distributing water-wise plants that thrive in the high plains and Rocky Mountain region.

Shrigley showed dozens of plants that carry the Plant Select label, indicating that they have a proven track record of growing and surviving in Colorado’s climate. 

“We’re proud to introduce beautiful, low-water plants that thrive and give you a wow factor in your landscape,” Shrigley said. “I’m here to inspire you to go to the garden center and buy these plants.” 

Watch the presentation by Ross Shrigley, executive of Plant Select: 

Creighton Hofeditz, the director of permaculture and perennials at Denver Urban Gardens, the largest independent network of food-producing gardens in the country. Known as DUG, the nonprofit currently stewards more than 200 food forests, community- and school-based gardens across six counties in the Denver metro area. 

Hofeditz offered tips on selecting and caring for trees and bushes that don’t need a lot of water, grow food and can be part of residential landscapes. 

“There are native plants that grow food here and plants that grow in regions similar to Colorado that also work here, like tart cherry trees. They grow well here and also in Eastern Europe,” Hofeditz said. 

Watch the presentation by Creighton Hofeditz, the director of permaculture and perennials at Denver Urban Gardens: 

Lisa Mason, a horticultural specialist with CSU Extension, the statewide community outreach branch of Colorado State University, the state’s land-grant university. 

With an office in nearly every county, CSU Extension provides research-based education and services based on community needs. Topics include the environment, lawns, gardens, water, soils, crops, agriculture, natural resources, yard, garden, insects, nutrition and health.

Mason stressed the variety and importance of pollinators, and how gardens and landscapes can incorporate plants and habitat, such as leaf piles, sticks and old logs that support bees and other insects without posing a risk of a person getting stung by a bee or wasp. 

“Pollinators are important to our world and most insects are not pests,” Mason said. “One-third of all the plants in the human diet rely on insects for pollination." 

Watch the presentation by Lisa Mason, a horticultural specialist with Colorado State University Extension: