Colorado Springs weighing new residential landscaping standards to preserve water | Subscriber-Only Content

New Colorado Springs homes could be surrounded by far much more native grasses and flowers like penstemons and coneflowers, fairly than endless seas of Kentucky bluegrass, to assist maintain h2o. 

The proposed Colorado Springs zoning code could restrict the amount of grass irrigated with sprinklers all-around new residences to 25% of the yard, excluding areas where by crops won’t be able to improve, these kinds of as a driveway, patio or deck. The code would also inspire drought resistant and native crops. The restrictions on lawns would not apply to current properties.

Placing in indigenous vegetation alternatively than lawns would not only assistance conserve water but also enable aid indigenous bugs and birds, stated Judith Rice-Jones, co-manager of the Mid Shooks Operate Local community Backyard garden and a local conservation advocate. 

“Indigenous pollinators and native birds are certainly, 100% dependent on the native vegetation they evolved with,” she stated. 

As the U.S. urbanizes and new neighborhoods spring up with nonnative grass planted all around every single house it cuts into habitat and quite a few species have to search somewhere else for food stuff, she stated. Lawns are the No. 1 irrigated crop in the state, in accordance to NASA. In 2005, three instances as numerous acres ended up dedicated to lawns when compared to corn. 

Instead of hoping to replicate what grows very easily in the Midwest, the new standards could improved suit what grows the natural way in town, Rice-Jones stated. 

“Colorado is pretty wonderful without possessing brilliant eco-friendly everywhere,” she mentioned. 






People planted this 100% indigenous plant garden at the corner of east Williamette Avenue and North El Paso Avenue. Courtesy of Louise Conner  


Transferring absent from h2o-hungry grass is also vital for the group as hundreds of hundreds of new people transfer to the space and Colorado Springs Utilities seeks to carry in added water from other basins to provide them. The city is previously heavily dependent on outside the house watersheds, with up to 70% of the city’s h2o coming from the Colorado River basin. The river has been strike challenging by drought in the latest several years with Lake Powell, a major reservoir for the western U.S., hitting a document minimal. 

About 40% of full h2o use in Colorado Springs is applied for out of doors irrigation, relying on temperature. In the summer months months, irrigation can make up about 60% of consumption, claimed Scott Winter season, task manager for Utilities H2o Resources and Demand from customers Management.

The proposed landscaping policies that encourage indigenous, drought tolerant crops are anticipated to be a “sizeable part” of potential water conservation efforts, in section because the city has so a great deal land but to be made, he said. For illustration, the 21,000-acre Banning Lewis Ranch on the city’s jap edge that accounts for a single-3rd of the group is mainly undeveloped. 

Winter noted, nonetheless, that since indoor h2o takes advantage of are also finding much more and a lot more effective, the proportion of h2o going to landscape irrigation might not transform substantially.

He expects the landscapes about households will nonetheless have lawns, but they will be extra strategically sized and have automatic irrigation controls. 


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The proposed zoning code would restrict superior-h2o use grass to no much less than 100 square feet as portion of the new drought resilient measures, Wintertime claimed. The 100-square foot minimum amount would apply to properties and commercial houses. 

“Mainly because these locations are challenging to irrigate competently, serve no purposeful goal, and can be difficult to preserve, we have proposed to prohibit these regions in the code,” Wintertime mentioned. 

Grass could continue to be permitted concerning the sidewalk and avenue as very long as that location is no significantly less than seven feet extensive, he mentioned. 

The city’s new zoning code, which attributes the new landscaping principles, is predicted to be reviewed by the Colorado Springs Planning Fee and Colorado Springs Town Council this 12 months. 

The draft of the code can be discovered at coloradosprings.gov/undertaking/retoolcos-zoning-ordinance-update.