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Landscape Design Program

Water Conservation offers free professional water-wise landscape designs to Aurora Water customers. 

Prior to the consultation, applicants are asked to take several photos of the proposed area. To begin the design process:

1. Select a specific project area. 
2. R
equest a consultation by calling 303.739.7195. 
Our staff will email a to-scale aerial of the area, several worksheets and detailed submission instructions. 

The designer will be in contact shortly after all the customer's project materials have been received by Aurora Water.

Design consultations are also available to commercial and large-property customers who are participating in the water-wise landscape rebate program. Commercial and large property customers must be participating in the water-wise landscape rebate.

Staff is here to help, so if you have additional questions, call 303.739.7195 or email [email protected]

FAQs for Landscape Installation

You have received a water-wise design from Aurora Water. Now what? We know questions can come up when getting ready to install your new landscape. This FAQ will help.

First, check out our informative class, Installing a Water-wise Landscape,for details on how to successfully navigate the installation. Read below for answers to some of the questions that typically come up with water-wise landscape projects.

  1. I have received my final design. What do I do next?

    If you are interested in the Water-wise Landscape Rebate (WWLR) program, read through the program manual. WWLR is a separate program from the Landscape Design program and requires approval to participate. Submit your application and the program manager will contact you to confirm whether or not your landscape has been approved.

    If you are not pursuing the WWLR, contact several landscaping companies to receive a quote for your project. How you implement your design is up to you and your budget – going DIY can be a great way to save money. Check out our videos and in-person classes for tips on how to install your landscape on your own.

  2. What if I want to substitute plants in my design for other plant(s)?

    Designs that are not participating in the WWLR program are free to substitute plant material. We recommend your substitutions be similar in size, shape and texture to be consistent with the original design.

    For those participating in the WWLR program, substituting plant material after you have made your final changes with our designer and received approval of the design will result in disqualification unless you have received approval for the substitution from the rebate manager.

  3. Where can I purchase plants?

    There are many local garden centers in the Denver Metro Area and online which carry water-wise plant material. We recommend first checking out local nurseries like Nick’s, Echter’s, Tagawa, Harlequin’s and others before you look at online options such as High Country Gardens. Keep in mind that not all plants for sale meet the city code’s standard size of one gallon for perennials and five gallons for shrubs. For the WWLR, plants must meet those minimum sizes.

  4. Who can help me?

    While we cannot provide specific recommendations for contractors or landscaping companies to use for your project, below are landscape professional search tools to help you locate a qualified professional.

  5. What should I do about irrigation?

    Depending on your current system, your design, your budget and your preferences, here are some options:

    1. Continue to use your existing spray/turf irrigation even though it’s inefficient. Not only will you be watering the open space between the plants, but as your plants grow, they will also obstruct your spray heads.
    2. Keep your spray heads and upgrade to high-efficiency rotary nozzles. You’ll still be watering open spaces between plants and obstruction will still occur, but it’s still better than Option A.
    3. Turn off your existing spray irrigation and hand water only. This will be a weekly demand on your time, but if you have a low-density design, it might be worth the water savings.

      Or the preferred option…

    4. Convert your system to drip irrigation. There are a few methods for this process. If you’re interested in DIY, take our Build Your Own Drip System class and watch instructional videos from Rain Bird, Orbit or other irrigation manufacturers. Or, reach out to a qualified irrigation contractor.

    Rebates are available for irrigation efficiency upgrades, including converting spray to drip. See more details here.

  6. What soil amendments do I need?

    Unlike an annual vegetable garden, perennials don’t require heavy amendments because their life cycle is longer and we aren’t pushing them to produce. Initially, you will want to help get them started with a little compost, but as their root systems grow larger, contact with native soils is important. 

    We recommend that you amend your soil with compost as you plant. Compost is an organic soil amendment, which means it is derived from something that was once alive. These amendments provide many benefits to the soil, such as increasing organic matter, improving soil aeration and the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients. Inorganic soil amendments are man-made or mined. Types of inorganic soil amendments include expanded shale, mason’s sand and pea gravel. For an organic option, use only Class I or Class II compost. Pea gravel or angular sand may be used as inorganic amendments.
    We have recently discovered the benefits of bare-root planting. Typically, plant material we purchase from a garden center or big box store is grown in a soil-less medium. This means that it is mostly compost and other amendments, like vermiculite or perlite, peat or coco coir.  Rinse this by dipping the plant’s roots into a bucket of water. As the soil-less medium falls away into the bucket, we recommend scooping it out, adding it to the planting hole by thoroughly mixing, then planting your landscape plant. We don’t recommend this with trees or shrubs.
    If you know your soil type, you will have a better understanding of which amendments—organic or inorganic—you may want to apply to your new landscape.  Learn how to tell what soil type you have in our video called Take Our Soil Personality Quiz.
    More soil info: CSU Extension Choosing a Soil Amendment Fact Sheet.

  7. Where can I purchase mulch?

    Whether you are looking for organic (wood mulch) or inorganic (rock mulch), there are a variety of landscape supply companies providing bulk or bagged mulch products. Discuss delivery or pick-up options.

    Alternatives to a landscape supply company include:

    ChipDrop: an app for locating free wood mulch delivered to your home. Large quantities only. Learn more here.

    City of Aurora Free Loader Days: provides free mulch on several days throughout the spring and summer. Learn more here.

    You can use mulch calculators to estimate how much you may need for your project, below are two options.

  8. How do I remove an existing lawn?

    Depending on your timeline and budget, several options exist for removing your existing grass. See below for options and refer to Water Conservation’s Installing a Water-wise Landscape class for more details on these options.
    Chemical: Using glyphosate (non-selective herbicide) to kill the grass. Follow directions on the label and wear protective clothing for effective, safe use.
    Mechanical: Rent a sod cutter, which is a gas-powered tool that physically removes the grass in strips.
    Smother: As the name suggests, smother the grass with layers of cardboard, newspaper and mulch to block light and warmth. You can also use .6mil plastic to smother the grass.

  9. How do I care for my new landscape? What sort of maintenance does each plant need to keep it healthy and tidy?

    The absolute best thing you can do to learn what your new landscape requires throughout the year is to become familiar with your plants: what they should look like, how likely are they to go to seed and spread, what their growth habit is, what pollinators they attract, etc. And the best place to become familiar with the plant material is the Aurora Water-wise Garden. You can receive hands-on experience, consulting expertise and practice what you have learned. We love our volunteers and we’re always accepting new ones. Contact Amanda at [email protected] to learn more about volunteering.

    Most water-wise landscapes require the heaviest maintenance in the spring. This means cutting back old, dry material down to make room for new growth. The best time for that is after daytime temperatures have been consistently above 55 degrees. We also recommend cleaning up any fallen leaves from around the plant. For more information on perennial maintenance, check with your local CSU Extension office.

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