Water-wise & Fire Resistant Landscaping
Water Conservation at The Conservatory
Presentation by Diana Denwood on 4-21-2023
Water Conservation Supervisor, Aurora Water
Grass Replacement Incentive Program
More information available below about the Grass Replacement
Incentive Program (GRIP).
Fire-resistant Plant Information
Information Provided by Diana Denwood, City of Aurora, Senior Water Conservation Specialist
For those concerned about fire-resistant plants, Diana Denwood provided some information that residents might want to pursue. Common sense says it’s dead, dry material that is potential fuel for a fire. Healthy, living plant material is fire resistant.
If you think of the devastating Marshall fire in December 2021, from what was written, one of the main reasons that fire got so destructive was the high winds that day; so not anything to do with the landscapes around the homes. But we should rely on the experts. Resources:
Diana provided the following about some plant materials.
Not all organic mulches have the same level of combustibility, speed of fire spread and flame height, according to a study done by researchers at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. They tested the combustibility of eight common types of landscape mulches. It involved exposing mulch to dry, hot weather for 2.5months, then they ignited each type. Each time the test was conducted, they evaluated the flame height, rate of fire spread, and temperature above the mulch bed. The findings were that mulches were combustible given hot dry conditions, but they varied considerably in their flame height, heat given off and speed of fire spread.
Composted wood chips and a single layer of Tahoe Chips had the least hazardous fire behavior.
The most hazardous mulches were shredded rubber and pine needles.
There are several factors that influence the fire-resistant characteristics of plants, including leaf moisture content, presence of dead material, and chemical content of the sap. Generally, deciduous trees and plants are less flammable than conifers. You can stop/slow a fire by planting these resistant plants farther apart to create a sparser landscape with fewer fuels. Here is an excellent, very detailed resource: https://www.grantspassoregon.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1002/Fire-Resistant-Plants-for-Home-Landscapes-PDF?bidId= Many of the plants included in that guide are water-wise.
SF Sprinkler System Conservation Tips
The sprinkling of lawns makes up over 50% of water usage in the City of Aurora and add significantly to the average homeowner’s water bill.
In the early spring and late fall, our turf lawns don’t need supplemental water. Wait until May to turn your sprinklers on and blow them out in early October.
A visual inspection is the best way to keep tabs on the efficiency of your system. Run your system once a month and look for these common issues:
Breaks – check around the sprinkler base, at the nozzle, in the valve box, and look for spraying water in your drip zones
Sunken heads – heads will sink over time and will no longer achieve full coverage
Tilted heads – heads and nozzles tilt due to shifting soil and will no longer achieve full coverage
Obstructions – plant material or other objects that obstruct the spray stream
“Cycle and soak” is the most efficient method for scheduling your sprinklers. You schedule three separate run times within an hour of each other, which helps water soak deeper into the soil and trains your grass roots to grow deeper. If an area is watered too fast for too long, many soils can't absorb it, resulting in runoff. For example, if the recommended watering time is 15 minutes, you would divide the schedule into 5-minute increments with 60 minutes of soak time in between.
Have your backflow preventer, aka vacuum breaker, blown out every fall to avoid burst pipes.
Learn more tips at https://www.auroragov.org/waterclasses
Grass Replacement Incentive Program
Get a custom landscape courtesy of Aurora Water
If your yard needs a facelift and you want to convert to a more water-wise landscape, our free design program is available to residents year-round. Our staff will be able to put your ideas to paper. Whether you’d like to invite more pollinators over or want a pop of color, we can suggest plants that will meet your goals. Aurora Water also has a rebate program called GRIP, offering up to $4,000 to replace grass with a water-wise landscape.
To get more information or to request a design, go to AuroraGov.org/Landscape.