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Collecting Rainwater No Longer Illegal in Colorado

Starting on August 10, 2016, it is no longer illegal for homeowners to collect the rain (or other precipitation) that has fallen on their roofs. In May 2016 Governor John Hickenlooper signed a law (House Bill 16-1005) that allows residential properties and multifamily residences with four or fewer units to use up to two rain barrels, located above ground, with a combined storage capacity of 110 gallons.

Rain barrels can only collect precipitation from rooftop downspouts, and the collected water can only be used on the same property from where it was gathered. The collected water can only be used for outdoor purposes, such as watering outdoor plants. Collected water in rain barrels can not legally be used for drinking or indoor uses.  Additionally, it should be known by rain barrel owners that operating a rain barrel does not constitute a water right. There is language in the bill that the State Engineer “may curtail rain barrel usage” if a water right holder can prove that the use of rain barrels has impacted their ability to receive their entitled water. In fact, in the bill it says the State Engineer must report to agricultural committees in the legislature in the year 2019 and 2022, on “whether the allowance of small-scale residential precipitation collection pursuant to this article has caused any discernible injury to downstream water rights.”

If you would like to learn more about rain barrels. check out Colorado State University Extension for more information.

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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Dog Tuff African Dogtooth Grass: The Best Turf Grass for Hot & Dry Sites

Do you love having a lush lawn, but hate the idea of wasting water? Do you have dogs who leave unsightly dead spots in your lawn where they’ve urinated? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then Dog Tuff African Dogtooth Grass (Cynodon ‘PWIN04S’) may be the best choice of turf grass for you. Dog Tuff is drought tolerant, resistant to dog urine, thrives is full hot sun, and is soft underfoot. Dog Tuff is a sterile variety of Bermuda grass, so it won’t spread via seeds. Dog Tuff grass was developed by respected Colorado horticulturalist Kelly Grummons. Kelly is working with High Country Gardens, and Plant Select to market this product. Watch this Plant Select video to see Kelly discussing this wonderful product:

 

Kelly has been working on bringing Dog Tuff to market for over ten years. The original parentage for this grass is native to South Africa, where a lush patch of it was found on a ranch. Dog Tuff is a “warm-season” grass, so it does not green up as early as blue grass. However, as Kelly mentions in the video, Dog Tuff needs only a fraction of the water to survive as compared to bluegrass. Dog Tuff grass will grow in many soil types, but it does need full sun (6 or more hours of direct sun). Dog Tuff is rated hardy to USDA zone 5.

We recently provided design services for a public park in Arvada, Colorado, where we incorporated Dog Tuff grass into an area the park. It was planted last year and is doing well. We are excited to have this as part of a park where people can visit and see the grass in person.

If you are planning a new lawn, or if you are thinking about replacing your current lawn with a more drought tolerant type of grass, you should consider incorporating Dog Tuff African Dogtooth grass in your home landscape.

This is the official blog of Outdoor Design Group, Colorado Landscape Architects.  For more information about our business and our services, please visit our website at odgdesign.com.

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How Long Should You Run Your Lawn Sprinklers During the Drought?

Despite the recent rain across Colorado, much of the state remains in a drought.

The watering restrictions that Denver Water put in place for this year remain in place, having gone into effect on April 1st.

You may be aware that watering restrictions mean you can only water two days per week, but how long should you run your lawn sprinklers on those days?  Denver Water recently released this chart, which includes recommended watering times for different types of spray irrigation.  Note that due to the drought, these watering times have been reduced from their standard recommendations.

2013 Recommended Watering Times

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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Drought of 2012 vs. Drought of 2002: Time to Rethink Landscaping Again

The drought of 2002 was very hard on landscaping in Colorado.  Plants and lawns were stressed by the hot and dry conditions, and mandatory watering restrictions were put in place across the state.  Many of us in the landscaping industry vividly remember these hard times.

Well, the drought is back.  Today the USDA predicted a huge drop in corn yields, the latest is a long summer of bad drought news.  Below are maps issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor from back in July of 2002 and from July of 2012.  As you can see, there are many similarities and much of Colorado is once again in an “extreme drought” situation.

US drought monitor July 2002

US drought monitor July 2012

Outlook Does Not Look Good

According to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook doe not look promising, although some improvement may occur in southwestern Colorado:

Dryness and drought, exacerbated by above-normal temperatures, have been increasing both in extent and intensity across much of the central and northern U.S. Based upon the July 24 U.S. Drought Monitor, almost 64 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought (D1-D4), the highest such value for the U.S. Drought Monitor since its inception in 2000. The last time the lower 48 States had a comparable area of drought (based upon the monthly Palmer Drought Index) was in 1956, according to NCDC.

Across the Southwest, the odds favor an active (wet) southwest monsoon in both the 1- and 3-month precipitation outlooks. As a result, improvement is anticipated across much of Arizona, southern Utah, and southwestern Colorado as the summer monsoon continues.

US seasonal drought outlook August 2012

What Does this Mean for Landscaping in Colorado?

As these maps illustrate, the drought conditions that plagued Colorado in 2002 have resurfaced, and most long-term indicators point to continued drought.  The good new is that there are some relatively simple changes and considerations for your landscaping to make it resilient to these conditions.

Some of the lessons we have learned and changes that can be made to your landscaping to better withstand drought include:

  • Design new landscapes to be more drought tolerant in the first place.  Take a more thoughtful professional approach to your landscape design and consider long term maintenance costs as well as installation costs.  Consider hiring a landscape architect or design professional.
  • Install the latest irrigation technologies to eliminate wasted water: smart weather based controllers, rain sensors, efficient spray nozzles and drip irrigation, to name a few.
  • If lawn areas are not used for foot traffic, and are simply for aesthetics, convert these areas to masses of low growing shrubs, groundcovers, or native grass.  You can achieve a similar look with plant massings at the groundplane while reducing water needs and maintenance requirements significantly.
  • If you have an older irrigation system, consider having a professional do a water audit, and upgrade old nozzles to new, more efficient ones.  If you are stuck with a landscape that requires a lot of water (such as large areas of bluegrass with spray irrigation) you should at least fine tune your sprinkler system.  This approach is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig (since your landscape will still “require” the same amount of water to be healthy), however there are some new irrigation nozzles such as the Hunter MP Rotator that can be much more efficient at delivering water where it’s needed.  At the very least, these upgrades could be a stopgap measure until the landscape can be renovated.
  • Remove large areas of high water use bluegrass and lawns, and replace with native or drought tolerant plantings.  A renovation of this sort will make the biggest impact by far.  You can covert your landscaping from one that requires a lot of water to remain healthy, to one that requires minimal water and still looks beautiful.

So there you have it.  The drought is here to stay.  Colorado is a semi-arid climate that will remain dry.  While tweaks and minor changes to irrigation systems can provide temporary relief, landscaping that requires a lot of water to stay healthy will always struggle in Colorado and the best approach is to install drought tolerant landscaping from the start, or renovate your landscaping to plantings that require less water.

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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