By Lyndsey Lucia
Water conservation is an important topic in Colorado. We live in a semi-arid climate with significant oscillations in annual precipitation and the threat of drought always looming.
The majority of water use in urban areas occurs on landscapes. This is where Northern Water, along with many other water providers in Colorado, focuses its conservation attention and studies.
The Conservation Gardens at Northern Water is an outdoor laboratory that demonstrates landscape and irrigation best management practices. The gardens showcase a turf grass study, demonstration garden, Xeriscape plaza and other educational pieces where interested water users can browse and learn about different conservation methods.
The demonstration garden aims to educate industry professionals, water conservation specialists and the general public about landscape water conservation. The garden helps homeowners and professionals understand three basic elements for a water conserving landscape:
- Achieving a sustainable landscape with efficient irrigation, plants and soils
- Achieving efficient irrigation through design, quality installation, and proper management and maintenance
- Achieving irrigation uniformity with proper sprinkler spacing, pressure and flow
The Conservation Gardens studies showcase native grasses, new varieties of turf grasses, “smart” irrigation technology, rain shut-off devices, sprinkler uniformity and water-wise landscaping techniques. The common myth that Kentucky bluegrass is a major water hog is busted with a visit to the gardens, where visitors see that Kentucky bluegrass can be water efficient if managed correctly. Many people overwater their landscapes, but most plants and turfgrasses will do fine with less water.
The Conservation Gardens also feature a Xeriscape Plaza with eight different landscapes. Each landscape features a Colorado-friendly or water-wise plant palette, which demonstrates reduced water use through better plant selection and irrigation management and techniques. The plants are identified with signs and a plant list, and are readily available at local nurseries.
Northern Water’s Conservation Gardens Fair is a great opportunity to learn about outdoor water conservation. This community event includes talks from experts in water conservation and horticulture. The fair is held every May and attracts people throughout Northern Colorado with an interest in gardening and conserving water in their landscapes.
This year’s fair is Saturday, May 21, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Northern Water’s Berthoud headquarters. The fair features classes, seminars, Conservation Garden tours and fun activities for kids. If you are interested in learning about outdoor water conservation, then plan on attending the fair.
How-to seminars include information on water conservation, landscape planning, trees for our landscapes, pruning 101 and simple ways to reduce turf water use.
The fair is free to attend and includes lunch. Contact Lyndsey Lucia at 970-622-2342 for more information about the Conservation Gardens Fair.
Lyndsey is a Colorado native and received a Bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in Environmental Horticulture with a concentration in Landscape Design. In 2009, Lyndsey joined the Irrigation Management Department at Northern Water. Public Outreach/Field Instrumentation Technician is the role she plays in the department. Lyndsey is a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor through the Irrigation Association.
Want to learn more about water conservation? CFWE’s new updated Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Water Conservation is now available for pre-order! Learn more here and order yours today.