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Native Plants for Landscape Design in Colorado

Sustainability in landscaping continues to gain traction and an ever growing focus with each passing year, and for good reason. Gone are the days when expansive turf areas made up the majority of landscapes.  Colorado Springs and the Front Range are classified as a semi-arid climate, and at times have been subject to water restrictions. The weather extremes between seasons can also be extreme. One of the simplest ways to ensure a landscape will be able to handle these extremes and still look its best is to select plants that are suited to Colorado Spring’s unique native climate.

Native Colorado Plants in Residential Garden
Native plantings thrive with little help, and blend in beautifully with the adjacent native landscape.

Native plants offer many benefits to your landscape

Native plants are naturally adapted to all aspects of the Front Range’s unique conditions, including soil and climate conditions. They will require less fertilizer, water, and care than an imported plant not suited for Colorado’s conditions. They also tend to attract the native wildlife that people usually find pleasant, such as butterflies and birds, and help support the local honeybee population. Also, native plants often tend to be less appealing to animals that often cause damage to landscapes, such as deer and rabbits. Any landscape utilizing native plantings will also feel more in sync with its native surroundings, and there is a vast number of native plants that are sure to fit well in any landscape style. A few our favorite natives trees are Aspen, Rocky Mountain Maple, and Pinyon Pine. Native shrubs we enjoy using are Currants, Rabbitbrush, Serviceberry, and Snowberry. Perennials such as Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Columbine, Gayfeather, and Penstemon are just a few of the attractive natives that do very well in the region. Another note to keep in mind is that focusing on planting native does not mean only planting native, there is a tremendous amount of non-native plants that are also well adapted to Colorado Spring’s climate, and will fit in perfectly with native plantings. Colorado State University is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to learn more about native plantings.

Outdoor patio with native colorado plants
An outdoor living area is brought to life by dense and colorful plantings, and this low water landscape doesn’t sacrifice aesthetics.

What is Xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping often comes up whenever discussing sustainability, but what is xeriscaping? Often, people mistakenly think xeriscaping is just tearing out a landscape, throwing down rock and being done with water usage and maintenance. That isn’t xeriscaping, and it’s not good for surface runoff, creates a lot of heat, and is not attractive. Xeriscaping is designing a landscape to minimize water usage. Native plantings, along with well adapted non-natives, serve well in a xeric landscape. They are adapted to deal with the climate. When combined with drip irrigation they create a very water friendly landscape. Many people also assume that there is no place for turf in a xeriscape, but that isn’t the case either. In a xeriscape design, turf areas should be minimized, but need not be eliminated. A properly designed and installed sprinkler system will also reduce the water usage of any turf area. If you’re looking for even greater sustainability, there are a number of native grass alternatives to traditional blue grass turf that will offer lower water and maintenance demands. Colorado Springs Utilities has put together a beautiful demonstration garden that showcases attractive and sustainable landscape ideas, it’s a wonderful place to visit for anyone looking to learn more about native plants, native turf options, and sustainability in landscaping.

native planting bed
While still incorporating turf into the design, this Pine Creek landscape minimizes the overall amount by including large planting bed areas with plantings well adapted to Colorado Springs.

Sustainability in landscaping will only continue to grow as one of the most important considerations in landscaping design and installation. By selecting plants that are well suited to the region’s conditions, you can ensure your landscape will be one that is easy to maintain, as well as being easy on the environment. Your outdoor space will also look great and feel like a perfect fit for its surroundings. If you’d like to learn more about creating a beautiful, natural, environmentally friendly landscape, check out our landscape design services and view previous examples of our work.