The 7 Principles:
1. Planning & Design
Before you start, make a plan by following the seven principles. Make sure your design works well with your irrigation, sun exposure, soil, and long-term goals for your property.
2. Practical Turf
Keep your lawn where it's healthy and frequently used for pets, play, and entertaining. Consider removing lawn that's never used or a struggle to maintain.
3. Soil Improvements
Most soils in our area are clay and could use a little extra love. Consider a soil test, tilling, and amendments like compost.
4. Low-water Plants
Choose hardy, drought-tolerant, and native plants, shrubs, grasses, and low-water turf. Be sure to group them according to water need.
Proper mulching is crucial! Use natural mulches, at least three inches deep, to suppress weeds, lower soil temps, and retain moisture.
6. Efficient Watering
Make a plan to disable or convert an entire irrigation zone to drip, install a faucet drip system, or change your watering habits.
Be ready for a bit of weeding, pruning, and mulching as your garden grows!
General Xeriscape Resources:
Video: Seven Principles of Xeriscaping
Watch a quick overview of the seven principles and use them as a guide for your project from start to finish.
Resource Central: YouTube Channel
Watch seminar recordings as well as Lawn Replacement participant interviews.
Thornton Water: H2Overhaul Lawnfessionals
Do you have yard envy? You're not alone! Watch this amazing clip from our friends at Thornton Water for an overview.
Denver Water: Xeriscape Principles
Colorado is the proud home of xeriscaping, a term coined by Denver Water, which refers to landscaping that promotes water efficiency by using drought-tolerant and native plants.
CSU: Yard & Garden
Fact sheets on everything yard and garden, from diseases to fruit trees!
CSU: Xeriscaping; Creative Landscaping
Quick facts and an overview of the key steps to creating a stunning xeriscape.
CSU: Xeriscaping; Retrofit Your Yard
Steps to follow, what to avoid, and plant recommendations.
CSU: Renovating the Home Lawn
Tips for re-seeding a lawn with low-water alternatives.
Colorado Waterwise: What is Xeriscape?
A great concise overview.
Alliance for Water Efficiency: Home Waterworks
Water use calculators, conservation tips, and landscape and irrigation advice galore!
Ecoscape: Transforming Your Lawn
Slides from a Waterwise Yard Seminar presentation by local legend Bill Melvin of Ecoscape Environmental Design.
Love Colorado Water
Learn the best practices for water conservation in Colorado from Colorado WaterWise.
Planning & Design Resources:
Resource Central: Xeriscape Planning and Design
Coming Soon: A brief video overview of key planning and design steps.
CSU Extension -- Yard & Garden Information
Topics include Gardening Basics, Diseases, Flowers, Fruits & Vegetables, Trees and Shrubs and Master Gardener Publications.
Water - Use It Wisely: Planning & Design
Great yards need great plans. Find advice for mapping and planning your new yard.
Colorado Springs Utilities: Landscape Gallery
More great examples of local xeriscape projects for all types of spaces.
Denver Botanic Gardens: Western Best Practices
Quick reference for successful landscape design for our unique Intermountain Western climate.
Resource Central: Garden In A Box
Every garden purchase includes several 'plant-by-numbers' designs and starter plants.
Denver Water: Xeriscape Plans
Design guides for narrow strips, slopes, shade, and anything in between.
Plant Select: Downloadable Designs
Full-color design plans in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Plant and Tree Resources:
Resource Central: Garden In A Box
Professionally designed low-water plant sets and design layouts at a great price.
Plant Select: Plant Smarter
Incredible resource from CSU & Denver Botanic Gardens. Includes plant finder tool, designs, and retailers.
CSU: Plant Talk Colorado
Timely and reliable info on more than 600 topics!
CSU: Xeriscaping; Trees and Shrubs
Recommended varieties, quick facts, and key points to consider.
CSU: Xeriscaping; Ground Cover Plants
Varieties, quick facts, weed control, and key points to consider.
CSU: Xeriscaping; Perennial and Annual Flowers
Dozens of varieties, photos, quick facts, and points to consider.
CSU: Ornamental Grasses
Native and low-water grasses, photos, and care tips.
City of Arvada: Trees Across Arvada
Low-cost trees for Arvada residents!
CO Nursery & Greenhouse Association: Front Range Tree Recommendation List
Detailed factors to consider for dozen of tree species.
Colorado Forest Service: Drought-tollerant Trees for Colorado Landscapes
A simple guide and species list.
Resource Central: Pot & Flat Recycling
Tips for recycling those pesky plastic pots that your plants come in.
City of Greeley: Low-water Plants
Learn about some native low-water plants!
Little Valley Wholesale Nursery
Shelly’s Garden Country
Good Earth Garden Center
City Floral Garden Center
Fort Collins Nursery
Gulley Greenhouse and Garden Center
Spencer’s Lawn & Garden Center
The Flower Bin
Blue Ribbon Farm
Resource Central: Turf (Lawn) Removal Basics
A recorded seminar from our free Waterwise Yards Seminar series introducing lawn removal methods, resources, and challenges.
Bewaterwise.com: Turf Removal Options
Great videos explaining sheet mulching, solarization, and manual sod removal.
Resource Central: Lawn Removal 101
A detailed article reviewing various lawn removal methods, costs, and challenges.
Mechanical Removal: Sod Cutter Rental
The fastest method. Rent a sod cutter for about $100/ day. You'll need a truck and/or trailer for transport and sod disposal.
Manual Removal: By Hand
The least expensive but most difficult method. Grab a sturdy square-bladed shovel and get digging! Best for projects under 100 sq ft.
Inexpensive and eco-friendly but slow. Use layers of recycled cardboard or newspaper as a biodegradable weed barrier, then top with mulch. Also see
Easier but slower and not so eco-friendly. Use dark plastic to cover and cook grass for several months. Similar concept to sheet mulching.
Fast and easy but only for small spaces. Extra strength horticultural vinegar (25-35%) is a great eco-friendly weed and grass killer.
Brothers Equipment Rental
Boulder & Denver
Area Rent Alls
Free: Compost It At Home
Flipping sod over can make a great planting surface somewhere else in your landscape! Make sure that it's free of weeds and thatch.
Free: Craigslist & Nextdoor
Post it online! Someone might want to incorporate healthy turf into some bare spots.
Commerce City & Englewood locations will compost sod. Cost: $5 environmental fee plus $12/yd. Two yard minimum.
Republic Services Tower Landfill
Commerce City. Composting not available. Cost: $86-$102/ truck load, subject to change.
Front Range Landfill
Erie. Composting is not available. Cost: $53.00/ton, two ton minimum, or $100/truckload.
Western Disposal Landfill
Boulder. Composting is not available. Cost: $162.00/ton.
Junkman Enterprises, Inc.
Denver area. They will pick up sod from your home! Cost: Minimum charge of $59.
Rocky Top Resources
Colorado Springs sod composting. $20 per truck/trailer.
Greeley and Weld County residents only. $7 per cubic yard.
Hageman Earth Cycle
Fort Collins. $7.50 per cubic yard.
How To Resources:
Gardenista: Hardscapes 101
Hardscape design guides for any area of the yard, plus lots more!
SF Gate: Hardscapes
Several great articles on stone walls, cutting stone, laying flagstone on clay, and more. Be sure to scroll down the page!
Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County: Slow it, Spread it, Sink it
A detailed homeowners guide on using hardscapes and other materials to capture runoff.
Resource Central: Materials Reuse Facility
Boulder. Reclaimed and recycled building materials at a great price! Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm.
Pioneer Landscape Centers
Locations in Fort Collins, Berthoud, Longmont, Boulder, Aurora, Golden, Littleton, Parker, Monument, Pueblo West and more.
All Around Soil & Stone
Don’s Garden Shop
Rocky Top Resource, Inc.
Bedrock Landscaping Materials
Denver & Brighton
Colorado Materials, Inc.
Dreamscapes Landscape Center
CSU: Home Sprinkler Systems; Preparing for Winter
Draining and winterizing your system to prevent damage.
CSU: Fall and Winter Watering
Guidelines and quick facts for winter watering.
Spray to Drip Retrofitting:
Thornton Water: Converting to a Drip Zone
They make it look easy and fun! Seriously!
Rain Bird: Spray to Drip Retrofit Kit
Watch the video to see it in action! Typically not available in local hardware stores.
DripWorks: Get started with Drip Irrigation
How-to videos, plans, and prepackaged drip kits galore!
DIY tips, parts, and tools.
CSU: Drip Irrigation for Home Gardens
Includes advantages of going drip, devices, typical system setup & operation.
YouTube How-To Convert Rain Bird Spray Head to Drip
Watch this quick how-to video for DIY sprinkler conversion!
Resource Central: Types of Mulch
An overview of the pros and cons of each type of mulch.
Free wood chip delivery from local arborists.
Louisville: Free Mulch
Available for pickup by residents and non-residents anytime, near the front gate.
Lafayette: Free Mulch
Typically available on select days in June.
Denver: Free Mulch
Compost also available for purchase on select days.
Please see the Gravel, Rock, & Hardscapes sections for local retailers.
CSU: Composting Yard Waste
Make your own and save even more!
Resource Central: Tips on conditioning your soil
Master Gardener Miss Jean shares her tips and tricks!
Denver Post: How to Prep Soil for Gardening
Great article with advice for amending our tough clay soil.
Colorado 811: Tough Soil Turned Gardening Gold
Tips for dealing with Colorado's hard clay soils.
CSU: Soil, Water, and Plant Testing Lab
Send a small sample of soil from your yard, get a detailed composition report.
Various locations. Delivery available. Also accepts sod for composting at some locations.
City of Thornton: Maintaining Your Masterpiece
Seasonal checklists and easy to follow tips for maintenance by season.
Boulder County: Noxious Weed Identification
Color photos, pocket guides, and a mobile app to help ID local noxious weeds.
CSU: Lawn Care
Watering, aeration, and mowing recommendations for Colorado lawns.
Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado: Find a Landscape Pro
Search for a qualified pro in your area.
Centennial Water & Sanitation Dist.: Incentive Programs
Waterwise landscapes, rain sensors and high-efficiency irrigation nozzle rebates.
City of Fort Collins: Xeriscape Incentive Program
Rebates up to $750 for waterwise landscape change!
City of Greeley: Life After Lawn
$1/sq ft rebate up to $2,000.
City of Thornton: Residential Rebates
Rebates for waterwise landscaping, rain sensors, smart controllers, toilets and more! Wow!
City of Aurora: Water Conservation Rebates
Replace some old fixtures, get money back for new toilets, waterwise landscaping, and more!