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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

Narrow islands like the one above should never have sod on them.  This photo was taken at a commercial site where there are literally dozens of these island.  Judging by how green the grass is, most likely they are getting watered like this twice a day.  In a future post I will give some calculations on typical water use-  but it is safe to say this property is sending  thousands of gallons of water down the drain every day.

Two other problems with this photo:

1)  The fact that they are “raised” islands makes the situation worse.  Water will quickly run off the slope before it is absorbed by the soil and lawn.

2)  Notice the cracking in the curb-  What is the number 1 cause of damage on parking lots and curbs?  Water.  The daily dousing of the curbs and asphalt will cause big maintenance costs.


  • First off- never design the landscaping this way.  We never design turf areas within parking lot islands unless there is an areas that is flat, and over 8 feet in width.
  • This property can be renovated to save water.  The renovation will save the owner in watering costs and landscape maintenance costs- while also limiting the amount of water damage to the asphalt and curbs.
  • Here is an example of an alternative design, using Xeriscape planting on drip irrigation:

    A Low Water-Use Xeriscape Parking Lot Island

    A Low Water-Use Xeriscape Parking Lot Island

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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