Archive for the ‘Site Renovation Planning & Design’ Category

Is Your Tree Next to Die? How Emerald Ash Borer Will Affect Our Urban Landscape, and What You Should Do About It

Green_ash_killed_by_Emerald_Ash_Borer

Green Ash tree killed by Emerald Ash Borer

2013 brought tragic news to urban tree enthusiasts in Colorado. In September 2013 the emerald ash borer was found in Boulder County. This find means that thousands of trees along Colorado’s Front Range could be decimated by this pest. And as Colorado State University Professor of Entomology Whitney Cranshaw tells us, the spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB) is dependent upon human activity. It is likely that EAB came to the United States via humans transporting contaminated wood crates from Asia, and it probably reached Colorado through contaminated firewood.

 

The emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, is a beetle native to Asia. It is small, about the size of a grain of rice. Being a non-native insect in North America, it has no predators to keep its population in check. And unlike the Ash trees in Asia, our native Ash trees don’t possess the natural insecticides that control EAB. Adult borers eat leaves of Ash trees, then mate and lay eggs in crevices in the bark. The eggs hatch, releasing larvae which burrow beneath the bark, which disrupts the trees nutrient and water supplying layers. The tree becomes riddled with tunnels the larvae leave behind. The larvae then hatch in spring, burrowing their way to the surface, where they repeat the cycle of feeding on the leaves, breeding and laying eggs of new generation. They kill the canopy of the tree, limb by limb, with the entire tree dead in 3-5 years.

Adult_eab_on_a_penny

Adult EAB on a penny.

Colorado’s department of Agriculture estimates that there are 1.45 million ash trees in just the Denver Metro area alone.  The costs to spray so many trees will quickly mount.

Tree and insect experts agree that there is no point in spraying your Ash tree unless the tree is currently infested. “Since most EAB treatments provide control for one year or, at most, two years following application there is no benefit in treating a tree prior to when EAB is present”, Cranshaw writes in a recent report from Colorado State University.

In other words there is no treatment that will stop the EAB from attacking your Ash tree. Spraying before the tree is infested only wastes money and needlessly adds dangerous chemicals to the environment. In fact, many entomologists warn that even spraying an infested tree may have lethal impacts on beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies, and won’t completely rid your tree of EAB, and would probably only buy you a few extra years of life of an infested Ash tree.

If we take a serious look at the situation, spraying at all is mostly a futile and dangerous endeavor. Spraying gives tree care companies extra income but endangers the life of beneficial insects, could possibly have harmful effects on people and is very unlikely to ultimately save your Ash tree. As CSU’s Cranshaw has said, he expects in 5-10 years all Ash trees in the Metro Denver area to be infested by EAB.  Furthermore, Cranshaw writes: “Once established at a location emerald ash borer can be expected to survive in the area as long as any ash trees remain. Therefore some management of emerald ash borer will be required for as long as one wishes to maintain the tree”. It is our opinion that a better strategy to dealing with EAB is planning for the eventual replacement of your Ash tree, rather than treating your ash tree with toxic chemicals, year after year.

What can we do to slow the spread of EAB to the rest of Colorado?

1.)    Do not transport any ash wood in or out of your area.

2.)    Do not plant more Ash trees in Colorado.

If you have an Ash tree, you really should consider planting a replacement tree now. If you are unsure about what type of tree would be a good alternative to Ash, contact your local nursery, arborist, or contact us and we can help you with that decision.

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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50 Ways to Save Water in Your Landscape

1)  Ditch the bluegrass turf lawn, completely or partially. Bluegrass turf uses far more water than alternative landscaping choices.

2)  Set your mower on its highest setting so turf grass is not cut too short. Longer grass keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.

Xeriscape

Consider redesigning your landscape so it requires less water and looks more interesting

3)  Use the mulch setting on your lawn mower so grass clippings stay on the lawn, which helps slow evapotranspiration and provides nutrients to the soil.

4)  Do not install bluegrass turf on slopes, especially south facing slopes, because much of the water will run off the slope and sprinklers will need to run for longer times to compensate. Instead consider planting shrubs or native plants with drip irrigation on a slope.

5)  Mulch your trees, shrubs and perennials to reduce water use. Mulch slows down the evaporation of soil moisture, reduces water run-off, and reduces weeds which can steal moisture from your plants.

6)  Consider replacing your existing high-water turf lawn with low-water turf options such as buffalo grass, blue grama grass or a fescue grass.

7)  Plant native plants that are more appropriate for the climate you live in.

8)  If you plant non-native plants, use ones that are adapted to your climate conditions, such as iceplant from South Africa, and Russian sage from Central Asia.

9)  Place your plants in groups organized by water use, so as to avoid overwatering low water need plants.

10)  Plant trees in your turf lawn to provide shade for the lawn and reduce evapotranspiration of the grass.

11)  Follow your water provider’s summer watering rules, and any watering restrictions that may be in place at that time.

12)  Don’t water during the hottest time of the day. It is best to water between 6 pm and 10 am. Watering during the hottest time of the day increases the evaporation of the water before it reaches the roots of your plants.

13)  Don’t water when it is windy. Just as watering during the hottest time of day increases water loss due to increased evaporation, so does watering when it is windy.

14)  When shoveling snow in winter, place snow piles where it will melt and water trees and shrubs that can benefit from extra moisture in winter.

15)  Install a rain sensor to avoid having your irrigation system run when it is raining, or the day after a heavy rainfall event.

16)  If you don’t have an automatic irrigation system, use a mechanical or digital timer with your sprinklers.

17)  If you have an automatic irrigation system, check it once a month or more often to fix any leaks or problems that may occur.

18)  Use drip irrigation to water your landscape plants. Drip irrigation is the most efficient form of irrigation because the water is not sprayed into the air which increases evaporation of the water before it reaches the plants.

19)  Avoid placing sprinkler heads against fences and hardscape.  Instead, install a strip of rock mulch between fences / hardscape and sprinkler heads.  In addition to reducing water waste, this minimizes water damage and the need for turf edge trimming.

20)  Improve your soils water holding capacity by amending the soil with organic matter.

21)  Make your landscape more permeable to keep storm water on your property. Instead of a solid concrete patio, install a unit paver patio to allow water to percolate down rather than running off.

22)  Divide watering times into shorter shifts to improve water absorption, and avoid runoff. This is sometimes referred to as the “cycle and soak” method.

23)  Direct gutter downspouts to planted areas rather than streets or storm water areas.

24)  Save rainwater from your roof for irrigating plants.

25)  Save indoor “grey” water for irrigating trees and shrubs.

26)  If local codes allow, hire a plumber (or DIY) to pipe your grey water to your landscaping.

27)  Use a mild/natural dish soap for washing dishes to keep this grey water safer for your landscape plants.

28)  Bathe your pets outside over turf areas that need water, using mild/natural soap.

29)  Wash fruits and vegetables outside over your lawn to allow wash water to irrigate the turf.

30)  Plant trees (adapted for your climate) to shade your turf area to reduce evapo-transpiration of the turf.

31)  Consult a landscape architect or horticulturalist to learn the best plants to use in your climate and growing zone.

32)  Before planting certain species of plants, do extensive soil preparations.  Some plants benefit from additional organic matter, while others will perform better if drainage is improved.

33)  Save fallen leaves in autumn and use as a mulch around trees, shrubs and perennials.

34)  Plant new perennials, shrubs and trees in fall when temperatures are cooler because it will take less water to establish them, as compared to planting in early summer.

35)  Cover water features, pools and spas when not in use to reduce evaporation.

36)  Check water features, pools and spas for leaks.

37)  Consider using pondless water features, where the water reservoir is hidden or obscured which provides less evaporation that a typical pond.

38)  Don’t use water to clean paving. Use a broom and dust pan.

39)  If you want to install a water feature, choose one that cascades or trickles rather than one that sprays in the air. Spraying fountains lose more water to evaporation.

40)  If your children want to play in the sprinkler, have them do this in an area of your lawn that needs water.

41)  Do not let your children waste water by spraying sprinklers on sidewalks, drive ways or the street.

42)  Place large rocks near shrubs, trees or perennials to keep the soil below the rock cool and moist.

43)  When refreshing your pet’s water dish, don’t discard the old water in the sink,  pour it on plants outside.

44)  If you have ice or water left in a take-out cup, or in re-usable glasses, pour it on your landscape plants outside.

45)  Don’t discard used ice and water from a cooler in the sink, but throw them outside on your plants.

46)  If you wash your car at home with a hose, use a shut-off nozzle so water is not running in between soaping and rinsing the car.

47)  Wash the car in a lawn area so that you water the grass at the same time.  Use a mild/natural detergent when doing this.

48)  Don’t use a hose to clean out your gutters. Consider using a leaf blower or a long handled rake specifically made for the job.

49)  Replace old spray nozzles on your irrigation system with newer, more efficient rotary nozzles. They reduce runoff and evaporation. Your purchase and installation of these nozzles may make you eligible for rebates from your water provider. Contact them for more details.

50)  Consider hiring a landscape architect to analyze your property and re-design it to require less water and maintenance.

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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Infographic – How to Benefit From a Water Efficient Landscaping Renovation

Infographic - Water Efficient Landscaping Renovation - Outdoor Design Group

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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Compliance with New ADA Standards May Mean Costly Renovations

On March 15, 2012, facilities across the United States must comply with the revised ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) design standards adopted in the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.

The 2010 Standards set minimum requirements for newly designed and constructed or altered State or local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

I have reviewed the new standards, and they are pretty extensive.  Property owners and designers should be aware of some of the changes that will be required when constructing or altering a facility.

The provision requiring accessible means of entry/exit for swimming pools has gained a lot of attention.  On March 15th, the US Attorney General signed an extension of 60 days for this particular provision, while also opening up a public comment period.

The swimming pool provision, along with other key new provisions, as taken from the ADA website, include:

2. Recreational Boating Facilities (Sections 235, 1003)

If boat slips are provided at a boating facility, the minimum number that must be accessible depends upon the size of the facility. Accessible boat slips must be dispersed throughout the various types of boat slips.

Where boarding piers are provided at boat launch ramps, at least 5% (but no fewer than one) must be accessible. Gangways that are part of a required accessible route are to be accessible, subject to certain enumerated exceptions.

4. Fishing Piers and Platforms (Sections 237, 1005)

Newly designed, newly constructed, or altered fishing piers must provide accessible routes, subject to the same exceptions permitted for gangways. At least 25% of guardrails or handrails must be no higher than 34 inches and must be dispersed. Clear floor or ground space must be provided at each accessible railing, and turning space must be provided on the pier.

5. Golf Facilities (Sections 238, 1006)

Newly constructed and altered golf facilities must have either an accessible route or golf car passages with a minimum width of 48 inches connecting accessible elements and spaces within the boundary of the golf course. An accessible route must be provided to the golf car rental area, bag drop-off areas, and other elements that are outside the boundary of the golf course. One or two teeing grounds (depending on the total number provided) per hole must be accessible.

If weather shelters are provided, a golf car must be able to enter and exit the shelters. Certain percentages of practice teeing grounds, practice teeing stations at driving ranges, and putting greens must be accessible.

6. Miniature Golf (Sections 239, 1007)

At least fifty percent of all holes on a miniature golf course must be accessible. These accessible holes must be consecutive, and they must be on an accessible route. The last accessible hole must be on an accessible route that connects to the course entrance or exit without going back through other holes.

7. Play Areas (Sections 240, 1008)

Play areas designed, constructed, and altered for children ages two and over in a variety of settings, including parks, schools, childcare facilities, and shopping centers, are covered.

Accessible ground and elevated play components, accessible routes, ramps and transfer systems (typically a platform or transfer steps), and accessible ground surfaces must be provided.

8. Swimming Pools, Wading Pools, and Spas (Sections 242, 1009)

Accessible means of entry/exit are required for swimming pools. Such accessible means of entry include a pool lift or sloped entry, and either a transfer wall, transfer system, or pool stairs. Wading pools must provide a sloped entry, and spas must provide a pool lift, transfer wall, or transfer system. Wave action pools, leisure rivers, and sand bottom pools where user access is limited to one area shall not be required to provide more than one accessible means of entry, either a pool lift, sloped entry, or a transfer system.

 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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14 Programs That Pay You Money to Install Water Efficient Landscaping

You may have heard that you can save big bucks on water and maintenance by renovating your landscaping to be more water-efficient.

water efficient landscaping

But, did you know that Cities across the country will pay you cash to do it?

As water supplies dwindle and populations rise, many municipalities are offering great incentives for reducing water use in the landscape.  When property owners, businesses, or managers factor in the payback from these rebates along with the water and maintenance savings, a landscape renovation can make a lot of sense.

The 2 Main Types of Rebates

Generally speaking, incentives for reducing water use fall into two categories.  The first category is paying customers to remove landscapes that have high water use and replace them with attractive low water use plantings, and the second category is to provide rebates for purchasing and installing irrigation components that reduce water use and that are more efficient than older systems.

As we have discussed in the past, the real water savings (as well as the largest rebates) come from replacing high water use lawns and landscaping, with new plantings that require less water and are more adapted to the local climate.  There are many benefits to this approach- see The Top 10 Benefits of Making Landscaping More Water Efficient.

14 Specific Examples of Rebate Programs

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Incentives for Removing Turf:  $0.75 per square foot for single family homes and multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  Rebates for smart controllers, rain sensors, rotary nozzles, and equipment for removing sod and placing compost.

Additional Program Notes:  Rebates of up to $150.00 are also offered for rainwater collection systems, and with the installation of a rainwater collection system the incentives double to $1.50 per square foot.  Residents may also receive a $20.00 credit for attending a water efficiency class.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Equipment Rebates:  Rebates for smart water controllers, weather sensors, and moisture sensors for single homes and multi-family or commercial properties.

Additional Program Notes:  Rebates include 50% of the purchase price for valves, and $75.00 per drip zone installed.

Aurora, Colorado

Incentives for Removing Turf:  $1.00 per square foot, up to $10,000 for single family homes, and up to $25,000 for multi-family or commercial properties.

Additional Program Notes:  Rebates are also available for removing old hardscapes, and for seeding areas with native grasses.

Denver, Colorado

Incentives for Removing Turf:  $18.50 per 1,000 gallons of water saved for multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  Single family residential customers can receive $2.00 per efficient nozzle and $100.00 for weather-based smart controllers with rain sensors.  Multi-family or commercial properties can receive $2.00 per efficient nozzle, and 25% of the cost of a smart controller.

Boulder, Colorado

Equipment Rebates:  Single family residential customers can receive up to $1,000 for installing smart controllers and rain sensors.  Multi-family or commercial properties can receive up to $5,000 for installing smart controllers and rain sensors.

Additional Program Notes:  Rebates are also available for rotary nozzles, mpr spray heads, pressure reducing drip valves, and backflow prevention devices specifically made for drip systems.

Louisville, Colorado

Incentives for Removing Turf:  $0.25 per square foot for installing drought tolerant Buffalo Grass for single family homes and multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  Rebates of $50.00 for moisture sensors, and 50% of the purchase price of a drip irrigation system are available for single family homes and multi-family or commercial properties.

Castle Rock, Colorado

Equipment Rebates:  Single family residential customers can receive up to $550.00 for installing smart controllers, rain sensors, and rotary nozzles.  Multi-family or commercial properties can receive up to $3,550.00 for installing smart controllers, rain sensors, and rotary nozzles.

Additional Program Notes:  Rotary nozzle rebates are available for up to $200.00 for single family residential, and up to $2,000 for multi-family or commercial properties.  Rebates are available for 50% of the purchase price of smart controllers and rain sensors.

Peoria, Arizona

Incentives for Removing Turf:  Rebates of up to $1,650 are available for single family homes and multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  Rebates of up to $250.00 are available for installing  smart controllers.

Chandler, Arizona

Incentives for Removing Turf:  Up to $3,000 for single family homes and multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  Single family residential customers can receive up to $250.00 for installing smart controllers.  Multi-family or commercial properties can receive up to $1,250.00 for installing smart controllers.

Additional Program Notes:  A minimum area of 1,000 square feet of turf must be removed to qualify for turf removal incentives.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Incentives for Removing Turf:  $1.50 to $1.00 per square foot, up to $300,000 for single family and multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  50% of the cost of smart controllers, and $25.00 for rain sensors for single family and multi-family or commercial properties.

San Diego, California

Incentives for Removing Turf:  $1.50 per square foot up to $3,000 for single family homes, and $1.50 per square foot up to $9,000 for multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  Single family residential customers can receive up to $400.00 for installing smart controllers.  Multi-family or commercial properties can receive $25.00 per station up to 68 stations ($1,700) for installing a smart controller.

Additional Program Notes:  Rebates of $0.50 for every gallon of storage capacity up to 400 gallons are offered for rainwater collection systems.

Santa Clara, California

Incentives for Removing Turf:  $0.75 per square foot up to $2,000 is available for for single family homes, and $0.75 per square foot up to $20,000 is available for multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  Rebates are available for smart controllers, rain sensors, rotary nozzles, and dedicated landscape meters.

Additional Program Notes:  Rebates of $1.50 per square foot up to $30,000 are also available for commercial properties through a “cost sharing areas” program.

Austin, Texas

Equipment Rebates:  Single family residential customers can receive up to $375.00 in equipment rebates.  Multi-family properties can receive up to $500.00 for new equipment.

Additional Program Notes:  Rain water harvesting rebates of up to $5,000 are available for no-pressurized or pressurized systems.

San Antonio, Texas

Incentives for Removing Turf:  Rebates of up to $400.00 are available for reducing water bill for single family homes and multi-family or commercial properties.

Equipment Rebates:  Rebates of up to $3,200 are available for installing smart controllers, rain sensors, and rotary nozzles.

Additional Program Notes:  Incentives are offered for capping irrigation zones and/or converting existing irrigation systems to drip.

 

These incentive and rebate programs are typically limited to a maximum allowable rebate amount based on the area of the project, and the purchase price of the irrigation components.  Many of the programs also are only available on a first come first serve basis.  With limited funding many municipalities exhaust their funds in the first few months of the year.  Other program requirements include selecting plants from specific drought tolerant or native plant lists, percentage of plant area coverage, and the make and model of irrigation components.

Because of the complexity of the projects and the paperwork involved, it may make sense to have a landscape architect assist you for a moderate fee.  These professional consultants can prepare any plans that are needed, submit applications, gain approval from local building departments and HOA’s, and maximize the potential rebate amount you will get back.

In addition, most states require a licensed landscape architect to prepare plans for any major renovation on a commercial or larger residential property.  The fees for these services are often offset by the savings that come from having a good plan that can be accurately bid and installed by contractors.

So, if you are looking to make your property more sustainable, update it’s image, and save on maintenance and water, look into what programs may be available in your area.

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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POLL: If You Could Have Your Landscaping Re-done in Any Style, Which of These Styles Would You Choose?

We are conducting a new poll to learn more about the attitudes of people toward different landscape styles.  Please take a moment and vote below- Thanks!

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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Why Do Water Providers Want You to Use Less Water?

It’s good for the environment.Photo of Old Water Tower

It can save you money on water bills and maintenance.

There are many reasons for you to renovate your landscaping to save water.  But why would a water provider or utility want you to use less of what they provide- water?

Since we work with customers to reduce their water-use, we hear this question quite often.  It does seem counter intuitive:  Why would someone who is in the business of selling water want you to use less of it- in many cases offering rebates and incentives to do so?

Can you imagine a Walmart employee standing outside of the store offering to give you $20 back, if you spent LESS money inside the store?

There are a few key reasons why water conservation is encouraged by water providers:

First, water demand will always continue to increase, regardless of how much our water use is reduced.  Population growth and land development put a great deal of strain on our water supply and the water delivery system.

Because the demand will always be there, it is in the water provider’s best interest to slow the rate of growth as much as possible.  There are large systems for treating, storing, and delivering water that need constant expansion and repair.

Secondly, water conservation is already built into the billing system.  Most water suppliers now use a conservation-oriented “tiered” rate structure.  These rate structures charge a base rate regardless of how much water is used, and separate rates for the levels of water that is actually consumed.

Finally, water utilities often consist of complex public/private partnerships, so there are environmental and public health considerations that are just as important as profit.  Would we really want our water system to be based totally on how much revenue and profit could be generated?

When considering the public good in terms of water conservation, there are numerous considerations:  Preparedness for droughts; the health of our rivers, lakes, and streams, and aquifers; impacts to other cities and states “downstream”; and even national security.

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 2 Common Types of Rebates Available for Renovating Your Landscaping to Save Water

Landscape rebates are becoming popular across the county as water conservation becomes a bigger issue and more people look for ways to save water.

Population growth is straining Photo of renovated landscapewater supplies and delivery systems, causing many water providers to provide great incentives to reduce water use.  Homeowner’s, businesses, and HOA’s are also looking for ways to trim their budgets and increase their long-term sustainability.

But landscape renovations can get expensive.  Thankfully, there are some great rebates out there that you can take advantage of to help offset the costs.  When you factor in the rebates, as well as significant water and maintenance savings, a landscape renovation can make a lot of sense for your property.

Irrigation Upgrades vs. Turf Removal

Most of the rebates out there focus on 2 main areas: Irrigation Upgrades and Turf Removal.

Irrigation upgrade rebates are offered to water customers to increase the efficiency of their irrigation systems.  Rebates are often offered to install more efficient spray nozzles, rain sensors, and controllers.

The rebates for these items are usually calculated per item installed, for example, $5 per efficient rotary nozzle, and $50 for a rain sensor.  For larger commercial properties there are often limit to the maximum rebate that can be obtained.

Turf removal rebates are geared toward removing areas of high water-use landscaping (usually lawns and turfgrass) and replacing those areas with low water-use landscaping.  The replacement landscaping can consist of  Xeriscape, native plants, and a variety of colorful shrubs, perennials, trees, and ornamental grasses.

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How to Design Your Landscape to be a Sponge for Rainwater

The following video by Brad Lancaster illustrates how much water the landscape is capable of absorbing- Check it out! I first saw Brad do a presentation a couple of years ago in Denver, and he is a really funny and effective presenter with some great ideas.

How can this be applied to our own residential and commercial landscapes?

Brad advocates a change in the way rainwater and storm drainage is thought of. Often times buildings are designed to get water to drain off of the site as quickly as possible, and into an elaborate system of storm drains. This approach treats rainwater as a nuisance, where it is not being used on the site at all. With a landscape design and drainage design that captures and directs water so that it can be used for gardens, flowers, and trees, this water can be utilized on-site as a valuable resource.

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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Using Aerial Photos to View a Water Saving Landscape Renovation – Before and After

This idea popped into my head one night at the end of a busy day. As I have written about in the past, one of our specialties at Outdoor Design Group is to work with large residential and commercial properties to renovate their landscaping to save water and maintenance. We call these our Site Renovation services. Often times the landscape is drastically changed, as we convert high water-use areas (usually irrigated lawns) into more sustainable Xeriscape style landscaping with trees, flowering shrubs, perennials, and ornamental grasses.  I already knew what these changes looked like on the ground, but I wondered what they might look like from the sky…

Landscape Renovation Before and After Aerial Image

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The Top 10 Benefits of Making Landscaping More Water Efficient

Converting an outdated landscape into landscaping that uses less water is not as hard as you might think.  And there are many benefits!

One of the best ways to do this is to convert your high water-use landscaping into a Xeriscape (pronounced “zeer-escape”).  This can be done anywhere-  from a small home landscape, to a large commercial property.

Many people have an image of Xeriscape as a “sea of rocks, with a few cactus plants”.  But Xeriscape can also be a lush, green and colorful landscape that is interwoven with flowering plants, textures, and beauty throughout each season.  In my opinion it is much more beautiful and interesting than “traditional” landscaping.

The Top 10 Benefits Are:

10.  Less Maintenance
9.  Use Less Water & Better for the Environment
8.  Prevent Water Damage
7.  More Beautiful, Colorful & Unique
6.  Better Wildlife Habitat
5.  Less Fertilizers & Pesticides Needed
4.  Better Suited to Your Site’s Unique Conditions
3.  More Winter Beauty
2.  Better Prepared for Drought
1.  Saves You Money

Now I will discuss each benefit in greater detail and explain what each one can mean for you:
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How Much of my Water Goes Toward Irrigating my Landscaping?

Question:  How much of my water goes toward irrigating my landscaping?
Answer:  In Denver, 54% of the average residential customer’s water use goes toward irrigating the landscaping.

The average person in Denver uses 128 gallons of water per day for residential use.

The breakdown of residential water use:

  • 1%  Dishwashers
  • 5%  Leaks
  • 6%  Faucets
  • 10%  Showers and Baths
  • 11%  Laundry
  • 13%  Toilets
  • 54%  Landscaping

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What Not to Do – Turfgrass in Parking Lot Islands

Did you know that in Colorado over 50% of the water used on a typical property goes toward irrigating the landscaping?

Most of this is treated water that has gone through a long and expensive process of being collected and travelling through a complex system of catch basins, detention ponds and storm drains.

Next, the water is treated at a water treatment facility to the point where is certified drinking-quality tap water- often it is of better quality than what you would buy in a bottled water.

Finally, the water leaves the facility and travels through a DIFFERENT extensive system of pipes to your home or business.  The system, and all of the maintenance on it, is paid for by you the taxpayer.

Why then, would you design or maintain a landscape that sheds drinking quality water every day right back into the storm drain?

Water Running off Into the Gutter

Water Running off Into the Gutter

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Up to $25,000 Rebates Available through 2010 Aurora Xeriscape Program

More communities are realizing that Xeriscape (low water use landscaping) makes sense, and are actively promoting it.

low water use xeriscape

photo of a converted xeriscape that was previously a lawn area

The City of Aurora, Colorado and Aurora Water have been pioneers in water conservation through supporting regionally appropriate landscape design.  Outdoor Design Group has been actively involved with the program for the last couple of years.  For 2010, the Xeriscape Rebate program has been allocated $250,000 dollars for rebates to convert high water use landscapes (sod, turf, or lawn) to Xeriscape.

In past posts on this blog, I have documented the money and water savings and given examples of the beauty of these landscapes.  Each site is different, but in general you can expect a Read more…

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What Not to Do- Placing Irrigation Heads Next to Fencing

This is my first in a series of “what not to do” posts related to landscape and site design.

One of the ways that I challenge myself to learn and to stay on top of the latest trends is to keep my eyes open for good and bad designs and ideas as I travel around my area or out of town.fence damaged by irrigation

The fence on the right is located near my home, in what appears to be an HOA (home owner’s association) maintained area next to a single family housing development.  This is just one example of fences like this that can be found all over Denver.  The root of the problem is that they have put sod directly against a wooden fence.  Sod is typically irrigated by overhead spray and the water from the irrigation is discoloring and deteriorating the fence.

Problems with placing irrigation heads directly next to fencing

  • Discolored fencing is unattractive:  Obviously this is an aesthetics issue- these fences are a real eye-sore for these developments and the surrounding community. Read more…
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Xeriscape Rebate Programs Provide a Great Opportunity for HOA’s and other Property Owners

The following slideshow includes images from our latest completed project-  Phases 1 and 2 of a complete site renovation for the Villas at Aspen Ridge condominium complex in Aurora, Colorado:

This $400,000 project entailed correcting some serious drainage problems and replacing outdated high water-use landscaping with new low water-use landscaping as part of Aurora’s Xeriscape Rebate Program.  Outdoor Design Group worked with the HOA to design the improvements, submit plans to the City for approval, and apply for the Xeriscape rebate.   Read more…

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Save Money and Water by Converting Lawn to Xeriscape

It’s easier to do and can provide bigger savings than you might think.  And, if your renovation is well designed, the property has the potential to gain significant curb appeal and value.  Take the multi-family HOA (home owner’s association) property below, for example:

villas-HOA-before-after

The plain old high-maintenance traditional landscape is on the left, and the same property is shown on the right after one of our renovations using a Xeriscape approach.  The finished product has numerous beautiful flowering shrubs and perennials, ornamental grasses, and trees that will continue to grow over the next couple of seasons into an attractive and lush landscape.

What are the other advantages, you ask, and how does this save money? Read more…

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Interview with Urban Design Podcast about Site Renovations

I was recently interviewed by Arina Habich for the website Urban Design Podcast about our “site renovation planning and design” services for commercial properties.  Visit the site to listen to the interview and to see the accompanying photos.

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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