Recently, Denver Water announced a Drought Watch (Stage 1) Response. Stage 1 is a voluntary call to their customers to reduce water use up to 10 percent and involves an advisory that continued dry weather could lead to a Stage 2 response with more constraints.
No surprise. It's a warm, dry spring and we've known for months the Colorado River basin is essentially a mirror-image of what it was before the drought of 2002. Other water providers may follow with similar directions in days ahead.
So what does this mean for all of us who have a front lawn to mow, some veggie seeds in the ground and a few trees we love because their shade cools the hot side of the house? Can we tend to our plants and still save water?
Well, we did survive the bad drought of 2002 and if things do get grim this year, here are some things to consider.
• While landscapes do take water, they also give back. Landscaping is part of our eco-system that cleans the air, shades buildings, mitigates pollution in both the air and storm water, produces food and cools the urban environment. Landscapes give back to us much more than they take.
• Water-deprived landscapes become unhealthy ones that are susceptible to weeds and disease. Even in dry times, we need to protect the long-term value of our landscapes while conserving water. Low water does not mean no water, but we need to water responsibly.
• Now is the time to get busy and do the things that save water - like simple and budget-friendly upgrades to the sprinkler system. Many municipalities and water providers offer rebates as incentives.
Remember,the term xeriscape? Now a globally-known concept, it was invented in Colorado about 30 years ago and its principles still apply today. Xeriscape isn't a "look" or a specific kind of landscape per se. It's a whole system that starts in the soil and ends with lovely plants.
What it looks like in your yard is up to personal preference and individual interpretation that comes about with a good design. If you're renovating or installing a new landscape this year, check out what xeriscape really means, because that vision of rocks and yucca plants is nothing more than pure urban legend.
Lawn watering tip for now through mid-June: After watering the grass, let the top 1/2 inch of the soil dry out before watering again. This is when the roots are growing deep to seek water in the soil. By letting that top 1/2 in. dry out, you're building a more healthy, drought tolerant lawn.
Need help with water-wise ideas to save water in your landscape? Find a pro from among ALCC's members in six chapters statewide.
Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. You may contact them at (970) 468-0340.