How to Design a Drought-Tolerant Landscape

If you live in Colorado, you’re no stranger to drought conditions. These past years have been dry ones and municipalities are becoming more rigid regarding non-essential water use. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to design a drought-tolerant landscape in Colorado that can yield a lush and interesting look with minimal water consumption.

Here are a few tips for designing a sustainable landscape that can weather the dry years, as well as the Rocky Mountains’ extreme temperature variations and soil conditions.

Design by Lifescape Colorado

Evaluate site conditions. Patience is a virtue for landscape designers. Use a season or two to evaluate your site, noting which areas tend to get the most and least water, as well as sun and/or shade. By evaluating your landscape, you can make better choices about which plants should go where. For example, the more moist areas of your yard — around downspouts or at the base of slopes — can be used for plants that require more water. You can save sandier, dryer patches for drought-resistant plants.


Source: Thomas J. Story via Sunset

Amend your soil where needed. If you aren’t sure how a particular section of soil will react with water, dig a hole at least 12-inches deep and fill it with water. If the water drains immediately, you’ll need to amend it with organic materials, such as compost or leaf mulch. If the water pools and stays put for 30-minutes or more, you’ll need to add sandier soil amendments to increase porosity.


Source: Norm Plate via Sunset

Replace or reduce your lawn. Lawns are not considered drought tolerant. Consider replacing your lawn, or a good portion of it, with colorful stone and ornamental plants. Ornamental grasses will provide a burst of green, while requiring significantly less water than a lawn.


Source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Add color with drought tolerant plants. Our high-desert landscape is bursting with native color. You can achieve the same by planting native, drought-tolerant plants such as:

Once established, these plants can survive on rainfall and snow melt alone.

Would you like professional assistance designing a drought-resistant Colorado landscape plan for your property? Contact us at Lifescape Colorado for more information about our services.

Protect Your Colorado Garden From Drought Conditions

Since much of the western U.S. experiences serious drought conditions, it’s important to remember how to protect our gardens from drought. Here at Lifescape Colorado, we always advocate water-wise landscaping to yield a healthy and vibrant landscape year-round.

These five tips will help you protect your Colorado garden from drought conditions, so you can enjoy your landscaping regardless of the annual rainfall.


Design by Lifescape Colorado

Use xeriscape techniques. Your first line of defense against drought is to plant things that don’t require much water in the first place. This is often referred to as xeriscaping. Look for native plants, shrubs and trees that have adapted to our climate. These plantings won’t require much water once established and will also attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife to your garden.

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil

Source: via Cornell Extension Cooperative Extension Onondago County

Build healthy soil. Healthy soil retains water by forming sponge-like clumps, which absorb and store water for the roots. A great way to build healthy soil is to start composting. Compost provides consistency, nutrients and the foundation for healthy microbe development, all of which will help your plants through a drought.


Source: Cornell University

Mulch, mulch, mulch. Plants are susceptible to heat and drought above and below ground. In addition to retaining water, a generous layer of mulch (3 to 4 inches) will also insulate roots, keeping them as cool as possible. We recommend using organic mulch, such as shredded newspaper, grass clippings, bark, wood chips, straw, leaf material, etc.

Design by Lifescape Colorado

Keep a longer lawn. If you have a lawn, keep grass blades at least 3-inches in length. This creates a shadow effect, which slows down evaporation and keeps roots cooler.


Source: Sura Nualpradid via

Water early in the morning. Set irrigation timers for early morning, so your plants can make the most of the water you provide before it evaporates. If you water by hand, you can enjoy the cooler parts of the day yourself, rather than battling the heat in an effort to water your plants. Avoid watering at night or in the evening, as this tends to encourage disease growth.

Contact Lifescape Colorado for sustainable landscaping maintenance to keep your yard healthy through drought conditions.

Nutrient Storehouse: 5 Great Reasons to Compost

If you’re a fan of the environment and efficiency, you’ll love composting. Compost is a nutrient storehouse created by recycled food and other organic biodegradable matter. Healthy compost can feed landscape and garden beds all season long. Plus, it also increases soil water-retention, which is one of the tenets of water-wise landscaping in Colorado.

Can you tell that Lifescape Colorado is a fan of composting? Soon you will be too! Here are five great reasons to compost.


Source: Organic Gardening

Composting prevents drought. In our arid climate, drought is always an issue. This is one of the reasons why Lifescape Colorado advocates for planting native, drought-resistant plants. Your water-wise landscape will benefit from composting because it forms healthy soil clusters that work like sponges to soak and store water that roots can tap into for longer periods of time.


Source: Organic Gardening

Boost your soil’s nutrient content. Your plants need vitamins and minerals just like you do. However, their only nutrient source is the soil their roots are planted in. As food scraps from your kitchen and other organic matter (leaves, livestock manure, etc.) break down, they form a nutrient-rich stew. (Note: If you’re not careful, your compost may do more harm than good. Only pesticide/herbicide-free materials should be composted). When this stew is mixed with the soil in your plant beds, plant roots have a way to tap into the nutrients they need.


Source: Organic Gardening

Natural plant protector. Because compost-rich soil creates such healthy plants, you’ll find your landscape becomes more impervious to pests and diseases.


Source: Organic Gardening

It can cleanup tainted soil. If you moved into a home where the previous owner used harmful pesticides and fertilizers, a healthy dose of compost may be just what the soil doctor orders. Compost has been shown to treat semivolatile and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), bind heavy metals and has even been known to eliminate pesticides and wood preservatives. All of this is good for the soil and great for our environment.


Source: Organic Gardening

Long-term environmental benefits. In addition to cleaning up the soil, composting reduces the amount of garbage you send to the landfills, which also saves on fuel and transportation costs.

Interested in learning more about composting and water-wise landscaping? Contact Lifescape Colorado for more information today.

Colorful Annuals for Spring Container Gardens

There are so many reasons to incorporate container gardens into your Colorado landscape. Hanging or grounded, these gardens provide seasonal color to walkways, porches and patios. Plus, you can plant slightly off-season, since containers can be moved inside or under cover to avoid damage from late spring frosts or storms.

While containers can be planted with perennials, such as succulent containers, most landscapers use annuals to enjoy vibrant colors in different seasons.

The following are five superstar annuals for your spring container and basket gardens.

Source: Proven Winners via Houzz

Superbells Lemon Slice (Calibrachoa hybrid). Ready for some sunshine in your landscape? Superbells Lemon Slice look similar to petunias, but are actually Calibrachoa hybrids. They’re unique, bright and decidedly cheerful. They prefer full sun and require moderate water.


Source: Log House Plants

Superbells Dreamsicle (Calibrachoa hybrid). Here’s another fun Calibrachoa hybrid for you in practically edible shades of pink, orange, yellow and purple. They’re colorful and interesting enough to be the sole star of a container or two.


Source: Dave’s Garden

Chinese Spinach, Joseph’s Coat (Amaranthus tricolor). There are multiple reasons to use this hardy annual in your baskets or containers. The first is their unique, tri-color foliage that boasts color nearly year-round. The second is that its blooming period stretches from summer through fall. Thirdly, it can handle everything but soggy soil, making it a versatile addition with other plants.

Jewel of Africa

Source: H ELITE

Jewel of Africa (Tropaeolum majus). If you’re a gardener who appreciates the finished product more than the process, you can save some time by planting Jewel of Africas in a basket or container located where the plant can climb (it can grow up to 8-feet). It blooms in a variety of shades, including salmon, peach, apricot, scarlet and dark cream.

Source: Le jardinet via Houzz

Bonfire Begonia (Begonia boliviensis hybrid). What’s not to love about the Bonfire Begonia? It’s a stunner when trailing out of baskets, hates anything more than average watering, loves full sun and will draw humming birds like crazy from summer until our first fall frost.

Don’t forget that Lifescape Colorado offers landscape maintenance services, so you can enjoy healthy and colorful Colorado container gardens for most of our four seasons.

The Environmental Benefits of Eco-Friendly Xeriscaping

Many people mistakenly believe that a xeriscape, or drought-resistant, landscape means sacrificing greenery and color for a bland and dry garden. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Lifescape Colorado provides xeriscape services in Colorado that yield colorful landscapes with year-round interest. Best of all, this eco-friendly choice conserves water, which is very critical in arid climates.

Here are five environmental benefits of eco-friendly xeriscaping.


Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Water conservation. The first and most obvious benefit of a xeriscape is that it requires very little water. This is essential in an era plagued by low rain and snow fall. In a well executed xeriscape, you can reduce water usage by as much as 70 percent! The less you depend on water to enhance your landscape, the better. The good news is that drought resistant plants thrive in low-water environments and can still provide green foliage and colorful blooms.


Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Preserve native plants. Oftentimes, indigenous plants are shoved out of the way in order to make way for plants that don’t do nearly as well in their new environment. Most xeriscape designs will highlight native Colorado plants or plants from a similar environment that can thrive from season to season with minimal care.

Source: Urban Botanics via Houzz

No fertilization required. Hopefully, by now you’re using organic fertilizers rather than their synthetic fertilizing counterparts. While you may choose to amend the soil initially to give new plantlings a boost, once established the plants will do well on their own with little need for soil amendments.

Source: Urban Botanics via Houzz

Reduce pesticide use. Because native plants are adapted to their environment, they are not as susceptible to pests, which reduces your need for pesticides.


Source: Better Homes and Gardens

Help local wildlife. Much of our Colorado wildlife depends on native plants as a food source. Conversely, our native plants rely on wildlife to assist with pollination and seed distribution. By dedicating at least a portion of your landscape to native plants, you’ll benefit from all the birds, butterflies and other wildlife your garden will attract, and they’ll benefit from you!

Contact the professionals at Lifescape Colorado to design your eco-friendly xeriscape today.