Gardening with water restrictions: Water you to do?


Restrictions: What are they, and what do they mean?

The City of Fort Collins has declared a Level 1 water restriction. If you do not get your water from the City of Fort Collins, you may or may not be subject to restrictions. However, in such a dry year as this, we strongly encourage everyone to reduce water use. What does that mean for you?

  • Watering flowers, trees, shrubs and vegetable gardens will not be restricted, but a hose shut-off nozzle is recommended.
  • Lawn watering will be allowed two days per week:
    • Even residential addresses: Thursday and Sunday
    • Odd residential addresses: Wednesday and Saturday
    • Commercial/businesses, multi-family and HOAs: Tuesday and Friday
  • Permits are available allowing exceptions to the restrictions for a variety of reasons, including:
    • New seed or sod for lawns: exempt from restrictions for three weeks for sod and four weeks for seed
    • Large properties with more than four acres: limit of one inch per week of water applied per zone
    • Well or raw water: use is not restricted, but signage is recommended; free signs are available

Thriving in spite of drought: What can you do?

Believe it or not, most landscapes are not watered properly when it comes to using the right amount of water. Often, plants are over-watered, causing shallow roots and weaker plants, or water is applied improperly, running off the soil and down the drain before it has time to soak into the ground.

Basic Xeriscape principles can help you reduce your water use and when applied properly, can allow you to have a truly lush and thriving yard, even with water restrictions. A common misconception about xeriscaping is the idea that it simply consists of gravel and cactus. In fact, it is not one specific style of landscaping. It is the comprehensive development of an attractive and healthy landscape that uses water efficiently.

The 7 principles of Xeriscape are:

  • Planning and Design
    Whether planning a new landscape or a new flower bed, consider things like the slope of the land, areas of the landscape that are naturally wet or dry, and which plants will grow best in various moisture zones.
  • Soil Improvements
    Soil should be amended to meet the needs of the plants you choose. Keep in mind that many native plants dislike heavily amended soil, whereas non-native plants may prefer rich well-amended soil.
  • Efficient Irrigation
    Choose irrigation systems that reduce evaporation such as drip emitters, low-pressure low-angle  lawn sprinkler, and other low pressure devices. Avoid watering devices that produce lots of mist.
  • Plant Zones
    Group plants with similar water, light, and soil needs into areas of your landscape that can meet those requirements. Place higher water-use plants in low-lying areas and areas where access is easy. This will reduce water waste and plants will thrive in their optimal environments.
  • Mulches
    Mulch can dramatically reduce evaporation while keeping plant roots cool and reducing weeds.
  • Turf Alternatives
    Although Kentucky Bluegrass is a popular lawn, it is also a very thirsty plant. To reduce water use on lawns, reduce the amount of Kentucky Bluegrass by choosing native grasses like Buffalo Grass and Blue Gramma, or choose blends that include turf-type tall and fine fescues.
  • Maintenance
    Like traditional landscape, Xeriscapes need to be maintained including weeding, fertilizing, pruning, and pest control. Maintenance will decrease over time.

For more information, including help selecting plants, irrigation, soil amendments, and more, stop in and see us!

Additional online resources:

Originally published on April 3rd, 2013. Updated on April 21st, 2013.