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Lot Lines – the Official Blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects

Project Highlight: Olde Town Arvada Landscape Makeover

Some of our favorite projects here at Outdoor Design Group are the landscape renovations. These kind of projects can be quite challenging to work on, but they often turn out to be the most rewarding once the project is completed, the site takes on a fresh new look and the plants have begun to fill in and show off.

A recent project for a non-profit organization near our office was completed a couple years ago, and the landscape plants have been looking great ever since. The landscape areas around the entrance to this organization’s building face mostly south and west with ample amounts of sunshine. With this in mind, we knew we could design a xeric planting plan that would look great throughout a long hot summer, replacing the old plants on site that were more water needy.

And because of the south facing entrance, we had the opportunity to utilize plants that are typically a little too frost tender for the Denver area. But that southern entrance to this building gave us warmer micro-climates we could play with to plant more unique varieties of plants for our area, such as Desert Willow and a selection of cacti.

Luckily our client on this project was a wonderful partner in the endeavor and was very open to the idea of a new landscape of low water and native plants for their freshly renovated office building. The before and after photos shown below offer a glimpse of the transformation:

Painted Lady Butterflies enjoying the xeriscape plants at this Olde Town Arvada landscape makeover.

This is the official blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects.  For more information about our business and our services, click here.

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New Bill Seeks to Encourage Use of Xeriscape in Common Areas

As water prices rise, and the climate warms, water conservation is becoming even more important. Colorado’s current population is estimated to be 5,695,564, nearly 700,000 higher than in 2010. That 13.2 percent growth is the fourth highest among all states over that time period.

All these new residents continue to put a strain on water supplies. It makes perfect sense then, to encourage Xeriscape, which, as we’ve written in the past (the-7-principles-of-xeriscape-revisited-30-years-later), is a form of landscape design that requires much less water.

We are pleased to hear of HB19-1050, a new bill in the Colorado General Assembly, that encourages the use of Xeriscape in common landscape areas.

Here is a summary of the bill:

Section 1 of the bill augments an existing law that establishes the right of unit owners in common interest communities to use water-efficient landscaping, subject to reasonable aesthetic standards, by specifically extending the same policy to limited common elements, which are owned by the community and available for use by some but not all of the unit owners.

Sections 2 and 3 extend existing water conservation requirements, currently applicable only to certain public entities that supply water at retail and their customers, to property management districts and other special districts that manage areas of parkland and open space.

This is the official blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects.  For more information about our business and our services, click here.

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The Good, the Bad and the Non-existent Bike Rack

As more cities and towns are trying to figure out how to deal with traffic problems and to reduce air pollution, many of these places are looking to increase biking as a possible answer those issues. Typically this entails adding or enhancing bike lanes of various types. However, it seems there is one critical bicycling infrastructure item that often gets overlooked or ignored: bike racks and bike parking. If bike parking is not easy to use and readily available, that is one more item a bike rider might add to their list of reasons not to ride their bike to run errands or commute to work.

The best bike rack is one if the simplest: the inverted U bike rack. This plain design looks just like the name implies, an inverted U shaped metal pipe that can be attached to the ground plane via welding to metal plates that are then screwed to the ground. Another installation option is setting the ends of the pipe in sub-grade concrete footers.

A good, basic inverted U bike rack.

Why is this modern classic the best bike rack design for bike users? It provides two stable points of contact to lean their bike; the bike frame can be placed close to the pipe for easy locking and securing (proximity is crucial when using a U-lock bike lock); and you can easily lock two average size/shaped bikes (one on each side) to one U bike rack. 

The advantages for a property owner or a municipality who might install a rack is the basic inverted U bike rack is relatively inexpensive, and, unlike consolidated racks (multiple slots for several bikes all connected to one frame) you can install just one, or several racks. Additionally, the inverted U rack is a minimal site furnishing element that can be easily tailored to various building architectural styles.

Another good bike rack: a customized rack that is similar (in function) to an inverted U rack.

Variations on the U-rack abound. Usually they work as well as the basic U, but if too many extra pieces are added to it, such as logos or other parts, this can impact the ease of use of the rack, frustrating the users.

Some of the worst bike rack designs are ones where the bike owner can only secure and lock their bike wheel, and the frame of the bike does not get close to the part of the rack where a user can attach a U-lock. This can put torque or force on the wheel which could bend it. It is also not as secure as getting the frame of the bike as close to the rack for locking. Fortunately this design seems to be old and falling out of favor.

A perfect example of a bad back rack. It is difficult to get the bike frame close enough to use a U-lock, unless you lift the bike over the top bar which this bike owner had to do.

Another bad bike rack design is any type for which the bike owner must lift their bike to attach to the rack. Considering some bike users may be a child or an elderly person who may not have the strength to lift the bike up, this kind of rack is not a good option.

And the only thing worse than a frustrating or mediocre bike rack is a non-existent bike rack. Such a situation may lead to the bike owner locking their bike in unwanted areas such as against the trunk of a young street tree, or in a location that might impede pedestrian traffic. Or, it could possibly lead to the bike owner leaving the premises, and going to a different business where there are proper bike racks. If you are a property owner who is considering what site elements and furnishings to include around your property to foster a healthy customer base, I highly recommend that you include bike racks and if possible, make them some form of the inverted U bike rack. Your bike riding customers will be grateful.

This is the official blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects.  For more information about our business and our services, click here.

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