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It uses 63% less water than the average Denver garden.

It uses 63% less water than the average Denver garden

What you see here is a truly appropriate home landscape for the arid West. It surrounds Susan and Art Ammann's Denver house. Last summer, it was awarded first place in the Denver Water Department's Xeriscape ("dry landscape') Yard Contest for its attractive and creative design that minimizes water use.

To conserve water, landscape designer Alan Rollinger grouped plants according to their water requirements; this allows them to be irrigated on separate schedules. The ground covers, shrubs, and trees are on a drip-irrigation system with 1-, 2- or 4-gallon-per-hour emitters, depending on their water requirement, while a sprinkler system covers the small patch of lawn in front. The 1,800-square-foot area of buffalo grass isn't on any system.

The Ammanns' garden stands out among neighboring lots that feature large lawns of water-guzzling Kentucky bluegrass: according to the Denver Water Department, this garden uses 63 percent less water than the average Denver landscape. But it is also a low-maintenance garden, since both Ammanns have little time for garden chores.

Only 4 percent of this garden's space is planted in bluegrass, whereas the typical home landscape in Denver is 80 percent lawn. On the west side of the house, buffalo grass covers an additional 15 percent of the grounds. This grass survives on Denver's 14 inches of precipitation per year; a deep irrigation in spring greens it up, and one in fall keeps it growing later in the year than it would otherwise.

On the east side of the house, a stream bed captures rainstorm runoff and directs it to plants growing nearby. A wood chip path circulates through the garden.

Plants were selected for their low water requirements, for interesting form and texture, and to provide privacy. Native trees and shrubs such as Gambel oak, dwarf robbit-brush, Rocky Mountain juniper, and coral berry are clustered throughout the garden. Since fences aren't allowed in the neighborhood, a hedge of native redtwig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) screens the back patio (see top left photograph). Ajuga, coral bells, creeping red penstemon, daylilies, Polygonum "Border Jewel', and Potentilla "Gold Drop' provide splashes of color throughout the landscape.

Photo: 1 Low to moderate water: Privacy screen of redtwig dogwoods benefits from neighbors' runoff. Wood chips mulch Potentilla "Gold Drop'

Photo: 2 Dry area: Carpet of buffalo grass surrounds Gambel oak (left) and rabbit-brush. Now they are established, plants here need little or no irrigation

Photo: Keyed by number to photographs, garden areas were planted according to five levels of watering (from none to high, as noted)

Photo: 3 Law to moderate water: Dry stream bed carries runoff from neighbor's garden down the slope to thirstier plants elsewhere

Photo: 4 Moderate water: High-visibility area is planted with lush-looking and colorful sumac, ajuga, and daylilies

Photo: 5 Low to moderate water: Sweet woodruff, coral bells, and pampas grass combine handsomely along flagstone path

Photo: 6 Moderate and high water: Polygonum "Border Jewel', flanking walk, is the moderate; the lawn is the high use
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Jul 1, 1986
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