Water Smart: A Simple Guide to Drip Irrigation

When you live in our dry Rocky Mountain climate, water conservation is a top priority. Our water resources are precious, and after planning for water-wise landscaping in Colorado, installing and maintaining a drip irrigation system is the single most important thing you can do to save water.

Unlike traditional sprinklers and hand watering, which delivers water from above and leads to water waste, leaf burn and excess moisture that causes vulnerability to fungus and disease, drip systems deliver the right amount of water at the base of the plant, so water travels down to the roots as efficiently as possible. This saves both time and money. A well-maintained drip irrigation system can save between 30 and 50 percent more water.

A Simple Drip Irrigation How-to Guide for Water-wise Landscaping in Colorado

Lifescape Colorado is happy to help you build an efficient drip irrigation system. We’re a Sustainable Landscape Charter Partner with the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, and our WaterSense irrigation system is certified by the EPA as the highest water-saving irrigation device on the market.


Design by Lifescape Colorado

Create a plan. Your irrigation plan depends on your landscaping plan. Draw up a plan of your landscape design, labeled with its watering needs. This will help you choose the best equipment for each area, and will allow you to set your irrigation pressure and timers appropriately.


Design by Lifescape Colorado

Understand the components. There are a range of drip irrigation components available. Your landscape designer can help you determine which ones will be needed for your system. These include:

  • Mainline
  • Sub-main
  • Valve
  • Backflow preventer
  • Pressure regulator
  • Filter
  • Drip tubing
  • Tubing adapters and fittings
  • Emitters
  • End caps

Source: Organic Gardening

Use the right emitters. Once you’ve installed your main and sub-mains, you’ll need to select the right emitters for the job. These include:

  • Individual emitters – best for establishing new trees, plants and containers
  • Pressure compensator emitters – use these in areas with a slope
  • Soaker hoses – use for small runs of plants in rows, like your vegetable garden
  • Inline emitter tubing – for densely planted trees/shrubs
  • Spray – works best for dense groundcover and/or densely planted beds


No main line should run for longer than 400-feet and emitters should be evenly spaced about 12 to 20-inches apart, depending on the type of soil you have. It’s important to consider that a 1 gallon per hour (gph) emitter covers about 12-inches of sandy soil.

While the amount of time it takes to install the initial system design may seem daunting at first, you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of the season with a water-wise landscape. Would you like professional assistance designing and/or installing your drip irrigation system? If so, contact Lifescape Colorado. We’re happy to help.

Fight Weed Growth the Organic Way

Weeding is a great way to spend time outdoors, get a little exercise and be productive in your garden. But when weeds proliferate, and you’re tired of spending countless hours in a seemingly endless endeavor, it’s tempting to grab the strongest chemical weed killer on the market and go to war. Even so, you should really reconsider before doing this. All those chemicals are terrible for the long-term health of your soil, your garden and the environment.

Instead, fight weed growth the organic way. The following gardening tips will help you win the battle against weeds in your Colorado garden without doing any further harm to your surrounding environment.


Source: Organic Gardening

Get to know your weeds. The best way to fight weeds is know what you’re battling. Use a field guide to identify new growth, so you can plan the best route to eradication. You’ll be able to deal with everything from shallow-rooted annuals to deep-rooted perennials.


Source: Organic Gardening

Prevention is the next step. Once you know which weeds you may be up against, preventing them from seeding is the next step to starting your organic weed control campaign. Try:

  • Using a broad fork. Rototilling brings deeply buried seeds up to the surface to germinate. A broad fork, rather than digging or tilling, loosens the soil without unearthing as many pesky seeds.
  • Waiting. Once your beds are prepared, wait three to four days so you can remove the weeds that germinate before planting.
  • Mulching. Use a seed-free straw or a thick layer of mulch around seedlings to block remaining weed seeds from sunlight.

Source: Organic Gardening

Remove them with roots intact. Deep-rooted weeds should be removed with their roots intact. Wait for a rain shower or after a good soaking so the soil is moist enough, then pull them up by the base. Don’t yank them or you risk breakage. Without any roots/runners left underground, they can’t come back.


Source: Organic Gardening

Dig ’em out. For particular tenacious weeds, be prepared to dig. It may take a few sessions to remove the entirety of the weed’s roots and runners.


Design by Lifescape Colorado

Plant densely. Let your own native and drought tolerant landscape choke weeds out rather than the other way around.

Are you interested in growing a sustainable and weed-free garden? If so, contact us at Lifescape Colorado to get your garden in tip top shape the healthy way.

A Colorado Gardener’s May Checklist

Finally, spring has sprung! These glorious, sunshine-filled days can be spent out in your garden if your irrigation is in place and your soil is properly amended. Once the basics are in place, you can begin the exciting task of planting bulbs, flowers, shrubs and trees to create your landscape masterpiece. Here are some gardening tips for the month of May to get you started in your Colorado garden.

drip irrigation

Source: Organic Gardening

Evaluate your irrigation system. Ideally, the bulk of your irrigation should be happening at ground level via soaker hoses and/or drip systems. Overhead watering can lead to leaf burn and excess moisture can also make plants more susceptible to fungus and disease.

watering plants

Source: Organic Gardening

Practice deep watering. Deep watering is recommended to encourage root-growth deep under ground where water is protected from dehydration. This watering technique is beneficial for both ornamental plants, as well as those in your vegetable garden. Let soil dry out in between waterings to allow it to oxygenate.

organic fertilizer

Source: Organic Gardening

Fertilize and amend. Amend the soil in your plant beds and fertilize your lawn. We recommend using organic amendments and fertilizers for a more sustainable and healthy landscape.


Source: Organic Gardening

Start hardening off your greenhouse plants. Are you ready to move those greenhouse plants and vegetable garden-starters outdoors? Make sure to harden them first, and move pots outdoors for longer and longer periods everyday over a couple of weeks. This will protect them from shock.


Source: Organic Gardening

Start planting. Once you’re sure the last frost has passed, it’s time to start planting your summer-blooming plants and flowers. Summer favorites like gladiolus, dahlias, begonias and lilies do well when planted this time of year. Also, concentrate on drought-tolerant native plants to conserve water and feed local bees, butterflies and birds.


Source: Organic Gardening

Prune abundant spring blooms. By now, some of your spring blooms – like lilac – are ready to be pruned. These ornamental bushes should be pruned back fairly quickly after blooming to encourage healthy new growth.

Contact Lifescape Colorado for more gardening tips, or to get your landscape in shape for summer.

Protect Your Plants From the Effects of Water Stress

Plants that don’t grow, bloom or flourish like they should are often victims of water stress. This is especially true in our Rocky Mountain region where drought and extreme temperature changes can be detrimental, if not fatal, to non-native plants. There are several things you can do to protect your plants from water stress — the most important of which is planning a water-wise landscape.

protecting plants from water stress

Source: Feelart via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What is water stress?

Water stress can occur in two ways. The first is when roots lack an adequate water supply. The second source of water stress is transpiration — a process by which water evaporates from the stems and leaves. In dry climates, transpiration can easily exceed hydration, which is detrimental to plant health.

Your plants will tell you when they’re suffering from a lack of water. Signs of water stress include:

  • Wilting
  • Less intense coloration
  • Reduced or non-existent blooms and/or fruits
  • Death

In some cases, soil amendments and irrigation adjustments may do the trick. You might even transplant the victims to a site with more ideal growing conditions. In a worst case scenario, you may lose the plant altogether.

The following tips can help you avoid water stress on your landscape.

Traditional Landscape

Source: Milieu Design via Houzz

Design a drought-tolerant landscape. Planting a drought-tolerant landscape is the simplest way to prevent water-stress. Water-wise landscaping in Colorado begins with knowing your own landscape, amending the soil as needed and planting more native plant species, or species that are well-suited to arid climates.

water stress

Source: Organic Gardening

Amend your soil. Organic soil amendments make a remarkable difference in the soil’s ability to retain water. Each soil type has its own benefits and drawbacks. Organic soil amendments create sponge-like clumps that retain water and enhance soil nutrients.

water stress

Source: Organic Gardening

Use mulch. A healthy mulch layer, up to four-inches deep, greatly reduces soil evaporation rates and will also insulate root beds from extreme heat and cold.

Are you worried about water stress? Contact Lifescape Colorado, and our maintenance team can evaluate your current landscape and make recommendations for a more water-wise landscape.

Amp Up Efficiency with Smart Watering Tips

With warmer weather on the horizon, it’s time to review some smart watering tips to improve your landscape in Colorado. After all, amping up water efficiency is good for your pocket book, as well as the planet.

Follow these tips to optimize every last drop of water required by your irrigation system. Over the long run, you’ll enjoy a more sustainable landscape.


Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Use compost. Regardless of your soil type — sand, clay or loam — compost is one of the single most effective amendments you can provide your garden. In addition to increasing beneficial bioorganisms and nutrients that live underground, compost helps form small clumps of soil that serve as little water storage tanks plant roots can tap into. You can make your own compost at home or buy it from a local nursery.


Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Water early. Watering in the cooler evening hours sounds good in theory. In actuality, prolonged moisture on leaves and stems overnight makes them more prone to destructive fungus and disease. If possible, set your irrigation timer for the early morning hours. This allows plant roots to drink their fill before the water evaporates, but allows excess moisture on leaves and stems to dry completely. If you hand-water, the cool morning hours are a pleasant way to start the day out of the sun’s harsh glare.


Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Deep watering. Once plants and trees are established, practice deep and less frequent watering techniques. For most plants, a solid inch of water once a week will be sufficient. Many drought-tolerant plants will require even less. This encourages roots to grow deeper into the soil, rather than spreading out along the surface, which makes for a healthier and more stable landscape.


Source: Kwaree

Install soaker hoses. Talk to your landscape maintenance team about installing soaker hoses around flower and vegetable beds. Soaker hoses provide a gentle, even water source without getting water on plant leaves and stems. Not only is much of this water wasted by evaporating before it can reach the roots, it puts the plants at risk for leaf scorch.

If you have any questions on watering techniques, contact Lifescape Colorado for advice regarding water-wise landscaping in Colorado.