Outdoor water use accounts for more than half of Denver’s water consumption. The Gardens is committed to water-efficient gardening that conserves this precious resource. 

Whether it’s educating our community about how to design beautiful gardens that are appropriate for our semi-arid climate or irrigating the plants we feature in our own gardens, we work to set a good example of water management practices:

  • Recent support from Denver Water as well as the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society has helped fund sub metering in the Rock Alpine Garden to better monitor water usage there. After a season of monitoring, we now know that the typical water usage in that garden is approximately 6 gallons per square foot during the growing season. By comparison, a typical square foot of turfgrass needs 18 gallons per square foot per season to sustain it.

  • Visit the Roads Water-Smart Garden and the Western Panoramas Garden at our York Street location throughout the spring and summer for inspiration.

  • Several gardens, including the Laura Smith Porter Plains Garden and Dryland Mesa, are not irrigated at all.

  • Chatfield Farms has cut its water use in half over the last few years by converting from sprinkler to drip irrigation for nine acres of pumpkins grown for Pumpkin Festival. Additional changes in soil management (using cover crops and composting to build soil organic matter) at the CSA have also improved water efficiency by increasing the water-holding capacity of soils.

  • Our expanded offering of classes and seminars provides even more opportunities to become water-wise!

Water-saving tips for Colorado gardeners

The Gardens’ water-saving collaborations:

  • Alliance for Water Efficiency — In 2011, we became the first public garden member of this national organization promoting the efficient and sustainable use of water.
  • Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association — CNGA works with the nursery and greenhouse industry of Colorado to implement industry best-management practices.
  • Metropolitan State University’s One World One Water Center — OWOW partners with the Gardens on a range of education and awareness initiatives.
  • Plant Select — The Gardens co-founded this program with CSU to seek out, identify and distribute the best plants for our region.
  • Sterling Ranch — This sustainability-minded residential development worked with the Gardens to create a low-water demonstration garden.
  • Urban Drainage and Flood Control District — The Gardens works with the UDFCD to help monitor and determine stormwater benefits associated with the Mordecai Children’s Garden green roof.
  • In partnership with several Colorado organizations, the Gardens hosted the Shed ’16 Water Summit in June 2016, convening nearly 250 water professionals to discuss water conservation, green infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and corporate social responsibility. The 2017 summit will again take place at Denver Botanic Gardens on June 29.