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Slow your roll on watering: Let Mother Nature be your guide

It’s still cool out there, so don’t 'Water That Way' ... right away.

If you missed this debuting for the May 1 beginning of Denver Water's annual summer watering rules, or simply need a refresher on the rules, we give you: the Splashstreet Boys and their smash single "I Water That Way." 

Except, it's still cool out there and your lawn doesn't need extra water. So hold off a bit. Don't rush into irrigation season. Just ... spend some time with our new music video.

And now, on to the rest of the story. 

Denver Water’s annual summer watering rules start May 1 and last until Oct. 1, but weather plays an important role in deciding when and how much to water.

Plants don’t need much water in the cooler months, like May. And late spring snows will bring Mother Nature’s water to your yard.

Not to mention, the average last freeze date in Denver is May 5, but that’s just the average, according to the National Weather Service. Over the last 10 years, the average freeze date has landed on May 11, with some late freezes more than a week later. In 2019, the National Weather Service recorded the last late freeze in Denver on May 22.

Freezes can wreak havoc on automatic sprinklers that have already been turned on, as the water expands inside the pipes, leading to costly breaks and issues throughout the system. 

So, ease into summer slowly. Keep the sprinklers off for a bit longer and use a hose and nozzle if there’s a dry patch that needs a bit of extra attention.

Water less during the cooler months during the spring and fall and watering two times per week is enough for most of the summer. Only add a third day if it's been very hot and dry. Image credit: Denver Water.

If you’re excited to get out and start playing in the yard like me, now is a great time to prepare for some landscape upgrades.

A few years ago, we put down plastic on a section of our lawn for several weeks in the spring. That made it easier to remove some decorative, nonfunctional Kentucky bluegrass turf that we then transformed into a low-water flower garden with plants from Resource Central’s Garden In A Box

In 2022, Denver-area Garden In A Box customers planted 200,000 sq. ft. of low-water gardens instead of grass. Find out more.

I have also spent time on the Plant Select website looking for new, low-water plants and flowers that could be added to our landscape. 

Plant Select is a nonprofit collaboration of Colorado State University Extension, Denver Botanic Gardens and professional horticulturists. Its mission is to seek out and distribute the very best plants for landscapes and gardens from the intermountain region to the high plains and beyond.

If you’re looking for inspiration, there are many examples of beautiful water-wise yards scattered throughout the Denver metro area. 

This includes “functional landscapes,” which fit the needs of the homeowner and family. Examples of functional landscapes include having multiple areas for different activities, such as grass for kids and pets to play on, vegetable gardens to grow food, sheds for storage, patios and decks for entertaining and flower gardens for visual beauty. 

Watch (below) how April Montgomery and her husband Kim Hartsen worked to make their front yard more functional, including building a walkway over the mud patch, enlarging the garden and adding water-efficient plants.

 Denver Water also has free tips and resources if you’re thinking about remodeling your yard.