Tag Archives: low water plants Denver

5 Low-Water Ferns for Colorado Landscapes

When imagining a drought-tolerant landscape, many people do not picture ferns. There is also a myth that you cannot grow ferns out west. However, you can indeed grow ferns in the west and several types do fine with little watering. Here are few of the low-water ferns that can grow in Colorado.

low-water ferns

Source: Norm Plate via Sunset magazine

Autumn fern: Found in woodlands and forests, it grows to two feet and boasts interesting colors. Fronds are multi-colored in spring, with hues of pink, copper and yellow, which turn green in summer. In autumn, rusty brown replaces the green and red spores appear on the undersides in winter.

Giant chain fern: A very tall fern in its natural habitat, it will grow up to six feet high in a cultivated landscape. This is an excellent fern for creating natural dividers or any space that could benefit from height.

Western sword fern: Western sword grows its tallest in moist years, but can still handle dry times. It is native to western forests and can add a woodsy feel to the landscape.

Colorado male fern: This low-maintenance fern grows up to three feet high in optimal conditions of shade and moist, fertile soil. It can handle some sunlight, but to avoid extra watering, consider a shady area first.

Long Ear Holly fern: An evergreen fern that adds a touch of green to the landscape through all seasons, the Long Ear Holly is not only drought-tolerant, it also handles freezing temperatures. Grow several together for a wonderful cluster of shiny green fronds.

low-water ferns

Source: Tish Treherne via Sunset magazine

Many ferns enjoy moist soil, but that does not mean they like soggy, muddy soil. Whether they are grown in a container or directly in the ground, the best soil is rich but well-drained. Most ferns also prefer indirect sunlight or shade to full sunlight, and this should always be considered when using these in a landscape design.

Interested in a drought-tolerant landscape? The landscaping professionals at Lifescape Colorado can assist you in choosing the best low-water plants and designing a landscape that is beautiful while also water-wise and low maintenance. Contact us to discover more about our services.

Rabbitbrush – A Colorful Colorado Native Shrub

PlantTalk Colorado says, it’s “one of the most ornamental and useful native plants for a Colorado garden,” and Better Homes & Gardens names it one of their “Standout Plants for the Mountain West.” A shrub native to Colorado, rabbitbrush not only celebrates the natural beauty of our state but it inherently comes with a tolerance for the tougher soil and weather conditions specific to this region, making it ideal for smart and stylish Colorado landscapes.


Source: Plant Select

Natural Habitat

Rabbitbrush grows wild in semi-desert areas up to an altitude of 8,000 feet and does well even in disturbed soils, such as the burnt soils of areas that have suffered fires.

Size and Shape

Larger varieties of this shrub grow to approximately five feet high and wide while smaller varieties, like Baby Blue Rabbitbrush, grow to a convenient, compact size of around two feet in height and width.

All varieties feature narrow stems and leaves that grow in clusters. In the case of Baby Blue, leaves are extra thin and appear as long blue-green needles.


Rabbitbrush leaves range from deep blue-green to dusty silvery-green. In late summer and autumn, rabbitbrush bursts with showy yellow flowers.

Fluffy light tan to brown seedheads replace the yellow blossoms when the shrub goes to seed. These colors and textures last through winter, adding subtle interest to landscapes during colder months.


Source: SW Colorado Wildflowers

Bonus Features

Rabbitbrush is exceptionally fragrant, especially when the stems are pressed or after a storm. This lively shrub can also energize landscapes by attracting butterflies and birds. Butterflies love the yellow blooms, and many birds often flock to the seedheads that develop in winter.


Rabbitbrush is not fussy about its soil. It grows well in clay, loam, sandy and other poor soils. This accommodating heat and sun-loving plant also tolerates windy conditions and requires little to no supplemental watering once it has established. Its low-maintenance and drought-friendly nature makes this native shrub a valuable addition to a water-wise landscape design.

Creating an attractive yet drought-resistant landscape requires extensive planning and in-depth knowledge of plants and xeriscaping practices. Let the professionals at Lifescape help bring your Colorado landscape to life even during the driest parts of the year. Contact us today to learn all about our greater Denver area landscaping services.

July is Smart Irrigation Month in Colorado

July is Smart Irrigation Month here in Colorado, which means it is the perfect time to take a closer look at your landscape and watering methods. Droughts are unavoidable, but by making wise design and irrigation choices, you can keep your yard healthy while also helping to conserve water. Here are tips on how to minimize water usage and save money while maintaining an attractive landscape.

Smarter Irrigation Methods

  • Use Drip irrigation: When water is sprayed into the air, some evaporates before it reaches the ground and some settles on foliage, where it also evaporates before it can make it to roots. The result can be a lot of wasted water while plants are still thirsty. One solution for flowerbeds and other non-grassy areas is a drip irrigation system, which keeps water close to ground level so it penetrates soil.
  • Water during the Coolest Hours: Even with drip irrigation, water can evaporate if it’s running during the hottest parts of the day. Water plants in the early morning and in the evening hours to get the most out of watering.
  • Add Smart Controllers: Instead of guessing when your landscape needs water, consider investing in a smart controller. These use information about your Colorado landscape size, soil and plant type, amount of sunlight and rainfall to determine the correct amount of water and the best watering schedules. This technology ensures optimal conditions for efficient irrigation.
  • Keep Irrigation in Good Repair: Check sprinkler heads and other components regularly for leaks, which can damage plants and drive up your water bill.

Water-Wise Landscaping in Colorado

Drought-tolerant plants that can handle the hot and dry Colorado climate are another way to achieve a beautiful and interesting landscape that is also water wise. Drought-friendly yuccas, for example, can add a variety of shapes, sizes and colors for low-maintenance interest to landscapes. It’s also worth considering alternatives to traditional grass lawns, such as groundcovers, that require much less water. Combine these with a well-designed hardscape, and your yard can be transformed into a beautiful oasis all year long no matter how little rainfall.

xeriscaping colorado

Water-wise Xeriscape design by Lifescape in Colorado

From smart irrigation to water-wise landscaping, Lifescape can help you celebrate Smart Irrigation Month with drought-friendly design upgrades and professional landscape maintenance. Contact Lifescape today to learn about our many services.

Architectural Plants that thrive during Drought

The best way to describe an architectural plant is a plant that is grown to be admired for its form and foliage. As we all know, it has been pretty dry in the Denver area as well as all over the state. So finding architectural plants that thrive without much water are ideal. Lifescape wanted to share two great plant options with you that will not only add architectural interest to your yard, but can thrive in drought conditions.

Giant Sacaton

Giant Sacaton

Photo Credit: plantselect.org

The Giant Sacaton grows to be a large 506 foot tall by 4-5 feet wide architectural specimen grass. This low water plant is also a native planting. All the Giant Sacaton needs is a few good deep drinks of water during the summer and it will grow lush and full with beautiful lacy golden flowers.




Photo Credit: cooltropicalplants.com

Within in the Yucca family there are a variety of species, from tiny plants to those that grow to be 3 to 4 feet. And best of all, they require almost no maintenance. Beaked yucca has a beautiful blue-green color and resembles a palm tree. (Source: denverpost.com)

Does your Denver area yard need some architectural interest?