Ecoscaping in the Denver Metro Area

I have been crawling the web this afternoon, feeling frustrated because I am dying to get outside and play in the dirt, but it is uncharacteristically windy in the Denver Metro area today…not fun.  So I decided to hit the internet and look for some inspiration so that I can stay motivated through the weekend, which is supposed to be in the 70s and lovely weather.

I found this article from the Business Journal, full of great info and all sorts of inspiring tidbits:

It’s a concept that gained traction almost a decade ago, in the wake of 9/11: the ‘staycation,’ the desire of homeowners to cut down on travel and instead invest in their homes. Well, area landscape architects are hearing that word again, but for different reasons, namely a lingering recession and high gas prices. In such times, they say, people are more likely to use their vacation savings on something more permanent. That’s good news for a landscaping industry starting to bloom after a couple of years in the rough.

Stephen Roberts, president of Stephen A. Roberts Landscape Architecture & Construction said, “Staycation is the catchphrase — stay at home and enjoy your house; have people over and entertain without the hassles of traveling. It’s huge,” he said. “We’re really focusing on that — creating a nice environment for people at home.”

When it comes to outdoor spaces, some types of improvements have become especially desirable.

“Outdoor firepits and outdoor, built-in cooking areas are really big,” Roberts said. “Water features are still pretty popular, but people are going more toward urns and sculptural fountains as opposed to fish ponds, just as a way to add quality and the ambience of water without the higher maintenance of a fish pond. Outdoor lights and accent lighting are also gaining momentum with people.”

Brian Campedelli, president of Pioneer Landscapes also reports an uptick in homeowners asking for both water and fire features, mingled with hardscapes and different plant materials; he’s also found interest in audio installation outdoors to create additional atmosphere for staycationers.

One growing request, Roberts said, has a back-end economic — and ecological — benefit. “Rainwater harvesting is another trend that’s hitting our industry. Instead of sending water down the street, you keep it on your property and use it for your irrigation system and general outdoor watering,” he said, noting that other ‘green’ trends are on the rise in landscaping as well.

For instance, some clients, mainly those with larger properties, are converting some portions of their yard to meadows instead of covering every inch with sod or seed. “By making them naturalized areas,” Roberts said, “you reduce the maintenance of the turf; you cut it a couple times a year and add groupings of native shrubs. That reduces rain runoff, and you’re not using as much ferilizer or chemicals.”

The Landscape Management Network blog ( places such efforts in a general category called ‘ecoscaping,’ which involves making use of green solutions to improve the look of the landscape without sacrificing the health of the environment.

“Some examples of green solutions,” the blog explains, “include rainwater harvesting; a self-contained water feature that recycles the same water; decorative hardscapes, such as more patios, paths, and decks that reduce the need for water and pesticides; retaining walls, which work to reduce runoff; as well as erosion from household chemicals leaking into the yard.”

Roberts said he embraces these trends. “Landscaping makes a huge difference, and it’s up to us to promote these ways of being kinder to our environment.”

Read the whole article here.

I love the whole idea of ecoscaping, so I did a bit more googling and look at what I found:

ecoscape denver

This is from a blog called Neighborhood Notes, and this is a great article about ways to green your landscaping and make your yard more sustainable.

It’s a long article, but I took away a great to-do list:

1. Plant Native Plants

2. Eliminate Pesticides and Artificial Fertilizers

3. Delawn

4. Add a Water Feature (With Recycled Water)

5. Add a Retaining Wall

6. Create Hardscapes

I wouldn’t have even categorized some of these as eco-friendly, but find out how they add to the sustainability of your yard.  Great information.

Finally, I visited one of my favorite local blogs, Eatwhereulive, and read a great letter from a guy who lives in an apartment in Wash Park, but who still took the time to write to the local council about the importance of allowing backyard food-producing animals.  Read it. Love it.

Here’s one of my favorite parts:

- Chickens eat almost any scraps that come from the kitchen – reducing our waste stream.
- Well kept chickens don’t have an odor.
- They provide eggs that are far more rich than those you can buy in the supermarket – produced right in your own back yard!
- They educate children about the sources of our food.
- Chickens are interesting enough that our neighbors across the fence started asking questions, and we became friends with them. Chickens actually helped to strengthen our community!

Seriously, how could you not love these little guys?!

backyard chickens

Wondering what your Return on Investment will be on outdoor improvements at resale?  Ask me.

Read more:

Going Lawnless

Front Porch Envy

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Posted in Green, Quick Hits, Renovation Tips and Ideas, Uncategorized, Urban Development
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