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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:


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?

* As an example, we have estimated the first phase of the project above will save over 380,000 gallons of water per year, at a savings of   over $6,000 per year.  Thats a lot of water.
* For the entire property, we estimate a potential savings of  4,500,000 gallons of water a year, at a savings of over $31,000 per year!  ~Now, that is a LOT of water!
* We have found that Xeriscape vs. sod has a 20-40% reduction in maintenance costs (aside from the water savings).  It turns out that all of that weekly mowing, trimming, aerating, thatching, fertilizing, etc. and all the gas required for the equipment to maintain large areas of sod can really add up.  The Xeriscape, by comparison requires little maintenance (more on that in a future blog post).
* Ask any engineer and they will tell you putting water around the foundations of buildings, onto parking lots, retaining walls (almost anything) will lead to structural failures in freeze/thaw climates.  Eliminating the need for all that watering is a good idea.
* Drought-  Colorado had a big one from 2000-2003.  California is experiencing one now.  There will be more, and when they hit do you really want to pay twice as much for extra irrigation water, or watch sod go brown due to watering restrictions?  Xeriscape can handle drought much better, and is more adapted overall to our arid climate.
* Many water districts, cities, and municipalities are offering sizable rebates to convert to lower water-use landscapes.

Don’t get me wrong-  some areas of bluegrass sod are fine.  Everyone loves to step barefoot onto some freshly mowed grass!  And you can’t beat the green color-  That’s why in our designs we locate appropriate areas for sod where they will have the most impact, where people can enjoy them, and where they can be easily maintained.  But sod on a south-facing slope in full sun that bakes to a crisp is no good-  and have you ever stepped barefoot onto a sodded parking lot island?  Me neither.

With the right planning and design guidance, these same principles can be applied to properties of any size- from small residences to large office parks.  For some great examples of how this can be applied to different types of properties, see our case studies for commercial, multi-family HOA, single-family HOA, metro districts, and office properties.

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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