September 23, 2011 | Sarada Krishnan, Director of Horticulture & Center for Global Initiatives


As we look for ways to conserve our natural resources and create sustainable communities, Denver Botanic Gardens in partnership with Sterling Ranch has helped create low-water sustainable landscapes at their demonstration site at Allis Ranch in Douglas County. Sterling Ranch will be Colorado’s first rainwater harvesting community and this project will set a new standard for water conservation in Colorado.

To achieve a goal of using only a third of water used by traditional communities, we have created demonstration gardens that showcase use of water-wise plants and various irrigation systems. The different planting schemes include:

  • Water-Smart Garden with very low water use ornamental plants with low maintenance.
  • Traditional Garden utilizes common ornamental plants of low to moderate water use requiring moderate maintenance.
  • Backyard Oasis showcases the use of a patio with shade plants and other aesthetic amenities such as a water feature, fire pit and planter boxes.
  • Open Space Garden features low water, naturalistic meadow garden.
  • Edible Garden with vegetables, fruits and berries planted in traditional rows and raised beds.


As the community starts build-out over the next 20 years, these demonstration gardens will serve as a teaching tool educating the public on how to create attractive living spaces while conserving one of our precious natural resources – water.


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