Tag Archives: Denver landscape architect

Great Gravel Designs for Denver Landscapes

If the idea of adding gravel to your Colorado landscape sounds dull and gray, think again. Not only can gravel add a variety of colors, shapes and textures, but it can be thoughtfully incorporated into landscapes to create beautiful, functional and sustainable permeable hardscapes. Oh, and did we mention they are also low maintenance?

There are a variety of gravel types to choose. Decomposed granite is reddish-tan and sandy or silt-like. Pea gravel is usually a mixture of rocks from 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch in size and in colors from white to tan to brown. Crushed granite gravel has larger particles than decomposed granite with a rougher texture than smooth pea gravel. The right gravel for your landscape will depend on the look you are trying to achieve and the specific functional value you are looking to add as some gravel types lend themselves to bare feet and outdoor furniture more than others.

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Source: Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture via Houzz

When it comes to designing with gravel, the possibilities are endless. Not only does it add contrast to interesting and colorful foliage, but gravel can be combined with pavers, fire pits, fountains, flower beds, container gardens, outdoor dining areas and other landscape features to create beautiful, dynamic and functional spaces.

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Source: Shades Of Green Landscape Architecture via Houzz

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Source: Debora Carl Landscape Design via Houzz

From charming alfresco dining areas to cozy fire pits to artful courtyards, gravel’s versatility can open the door to custom designs that allow you to enjoy your landscape in multiple ways.

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Source: Troy Rhone Garden Design via Houzz

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Source: Huettl Landscape Architecture via Houzz

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Source: Texas Construction Company via Houzz

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Source: Exteriors By Chad Robert via Houzz

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Source: Revival Arts | Architectural Photography via Houzz

Are you looking to achieve a low-maintenance landscape that is also eco-friendly and aesthetically interesting year-round? Let Lifescape in Colorado help! Contact us today to start discussing a custom landscape design with permeable gravel hardscapes.

Lawn Alternatives to Love

Not only do lawns drink a lot of water, they are high-maintenance and don’t always mix well with the hot and dry Colorado summers. But fortunately, there are many beautiful lawn alternatives that are also drought tolerant.

Cara panza or UC Verde gives you the look of a beautiful lawn without the hassle and extravagant amounts of water. These tough groundcovers are drought-resistant and do not need to be mowed once they are established, unless you want a turf-like look.

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Cara panza
Source: Toposes via Houzz

Here are some other groundcovers that look great and require little water and maintenance.

  • Carex glauca – Carex glauca is a thin-bladed, grey-green groundcover that is grows well even in tough, dry conditions. When left on its own, it offers a lush, soft field of natural beauty.
  • Lilyturf – Beautiful green and grass-like, lilyturf sends out runners to spread quickly over an area. While this groundcover’s lumpy growth pattern makes it unsuitable for foot traffic, it works well to guard against soil erosion on steep landscapes.
  • Clover – Clover is an excellent water-wise lawn alternative. It can be planted and then pretty much left alone. Clover holds its color through all seasons and, although it is too delicate for pet or children’s play areas, it handles gentle foot traffic well.
  • Dymondia – This green and silver-bladed groundcover requires no mowing and is drought-tolerant after it is established. The interesting leaves make it a good choice for landscape areas where you are looking to add a little drama. It can be damaged when walked on, however, and so should be planted in low-traffic areas only.
lawn alternatives

Source: Blooming Desert Landscapes via Houzz

Native meadow plants and ornamental grasses are also wonderful water-wise lawn alternatives. Bluestem grasses and flowering plants such as wild bergamot add fantastic color and interest to Colorado landscapes. Native plants and drought-resistant ornamental grasses such as these are also easy to incorporate around hardscape designs to add lushness and break up the monotony.

wild bergamot

Wild bergamot
Source: Matthew Cunningham Landscape Design LLC via Houzz

From landscape design to landscape maintenance, Lifescape can help you achieve a beautiful lawn-less landscape that’s sustainable and drought-friendly. Contact Lifescape to learn about our extensive range of landscaping services.

Drought-Tolerant Landscapes Start with the Soil

With persisting drought conditions and water shortages here in Colorado, water-wise landscaping is still the way to go. While planting drought-resistant plants and watering with conservation in mind are important, truly drought-tolerant landscapes start with the soil.

For plants, grass and trees to be able to thrive in drought conditions, they require nutrient-rich soil that is properly aerated and able to disperse water efficiently. To prepare soil for a water-wise landscape, you should first till and loosen soil roughly a foot deep. Highly compacted soil makes it difficult for roots to spread. It also makes it harder for water to penetrate the soil adequately before it evaporates.

Once the ground has been loosened the addition of organic compost will provide the nutrients your plants need to grow healthy and lush even in tough conditions. As Judy Scott of the OSU Extension Service puts it, “Soil straight from your backyard just won’t do the job.” The compost should be in an advanced state of decomposition. Any raw materials such as wood chips still present in the compost will use up the nitrogen. Using compost that is not sufficiently broken down will also force your plants to compete for available nitrogen.

Ideally, you should prepare your soil and complete your planting before the hottest and driest parts of the year. If your plants have time to develop a healthy and deep root base before the hottest and driest parts of the summer, they will be stronger and better able to withstand drought conditions.

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Source: Oregon State Extension

After you have prepared your soil and completed your planting, you should then cover the ground with a thick carpet of mulch. Not only will mulch reduce the number of weeds that will use up water and nutrients, it will prevent the water from evaporating at ground level before it has time to penetrate the soil.

Developing and designing a drought-tolerant landscape does require time, effort and thoughtful planning, but having a beautiful Colorado landscape year-round is well worth the investment. For help achieving a water-wise landscape, contact Lifescape.

Multi-Purpose Plants for Colorado Landscapes

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Source: William Joyce Design via Houzz

There are several benefits to working with a professional to design and maintain your Colorado landscape. An experienced professional can help you to achieve a beautiful, dynamic and low-maintenance landscape that you can enjoy year-round. But it doesn’t have to stop here.

If you are interested in sustainable living practices, a professional landscaper can incorporate multi-purpose plants that allow you to get even more out of your landscape. Here are a few plants we recommend that can offer more than what meets the eye. 

  • Aloe Vera – The dramatic silhouette of the spiky Aloe Vera plant can add gorgeous architectural interest to landscapes. As many of us now know, the fleshy leaves of this tropical succulent plant can also be used to treat sunburns and skin irritations. While it can grow in most soil and sun conditions, aloe plants should be moved indoors during the winter months.
  • Lavender – Who doesn’t love lavender? There are several variations of the Lavender flower, making it a versatile design element for Colorado gardens and landscapes. Fragrant and edible, lavender plants can also be used in the kitchen and in a variety of other practical ways, as Mother Nature Network reminds us. Rich in nectar and pollen, lavender also attracts beautiful butterflies.
  • Perennial Herbs – Perennial herbs such as oregano, rosemary, sage and chives are not only easy to grow but visually appealing, too. Many of these can add colorful flowers and beautiful fragrances to landscapes while also providing fresh flavors to use in the kitchen.
  • Sunflowers – In addition to being drought-resistant, these flowers can withstand slight frost, which means you can begin planting them early. Their high nectar content and large, colorful flower heads also attract butterflies.


Do you wish to get more out of your Colorado landscape? As a landscape architecture and design firm serving the greater Denver area, Lifescape offers an extensive range of landscape design and maintenance services. Call us at (303) 831-8310 to learn more!

3 Ways Stone Walls Can Benefit & Beautify Colorado Landscapes

Stone walls have been used to create borders and protect them from hillside erosion for hundreds of years. But today, in addition to being functional, stone walls can add incredible interest and beauty to landscapes. Local or imported stones can add natural color that contrasts flora and fauna and can even be used to incorporate artistic patterns. Stone walls can also create zones in hardscape designs to connect or define fire pit, plant bed and seating areas.

Here are three ways to add beauty and function to Colorado landscapes with stone walls.

Creating 3-D Boundaries: The most classic use of a stone wall is to create boundaries. A small wall can outline a porch or seating area to make it more private. And on a more grand scale, a rock wall can be used to create multiple boundaries within a single space that includes planters, seating areas, benches, fireplaces, etc.

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Source: Pine Street Carpenters via Houzz


Retaining & Terracing: If you live on a slope, a well-designed and professionally constructed retaining wall will be your greatest ally in creating functional, livable outdoor space. In its most basic form, a retaining wall provides structure to create a flat area that will not erode. A landscape designer can also create terraces with retaining walls, which protect slopes from eroding and add additional flat spaces for lawns, gardens and sitting areas

But as landscaping expert James Woodhead told the Landscaping Network, “When it comes to retaining walls, don’t be a do-it-yourselfer!” We heartily concur. Retaining walls require sound engineering, a solid design and expert construction to ensure durability and safety.

denver hardscape design

Source: Jeffrey Gordon Smith via Houzz

Adding Dimension: If your live on a flat piece of property, and want to add extra dimension or structure to wide expanses of lawn or yard space, you can use a rock wall to create encircle or outline focal points in your landscape. Stone walls can be used to add a large, elevated flower bed, for instance. Another option is to incorporate a stone wall as a backdrop for a sunken patio or seating area.

denver hardscape design

Source: Paradise Restored Landscaping via Houzz

If you are interested in incorporating a stone wall in your Colorado landscape, contact Lifescape. We would love to visit your space and brainstorm creative ways to enhance your property’s natural landscape features.