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The economic advantages of water-wise landscaping in Colorado

April 30, 2024, 11:45 am

Colorado’s arid climate and growing population are putting a strain on water resources. Lawns, traditionally a symbol of a beautiful home, are major culprits, guzzling up precious water. Every year, millions of gallons are sprayed on Kentucky bluegrass, a thirsty import ill-suited to the state’s dry conditions. However, a new trend is emerging: water-wise landscaping. This shift not only benefits the environment by reducing water consumption but also offers significant economic advantages for homeowners and communities.

Less Water, More Savings

Water bills are a constant expense for homeowners. In Colorado, where rates can be high due to the cost of transporting water from distant sources, even small reductions in usage can lead to substantial savings. Replacing thirsty Kentucky bluegrass with native, drought-resistant plants can significantly reduce water usage. The Bittersweet Pointe HOA in Greeley is a prime example. After converting a portion of their common area to native grasses like blue grama and buffalo grass, they estimate a 60% reduction in water needed for irrigation. This translates to substantial cost savings for the entire HOA. In 2022, their water bill would have been thousands of dollars higher if they hadn’t made the switch.

The savings aren’t limited to HOAs. Individual homeowners can expect similar benefits. A typical Colorado household can spend hundreds of dollars annually on watering their lawn. By replacing even a portion of their lawn with water-wise plants, homeowners can see a noticeable decrease in their water bills. This translates to real financial benefits, freeing up money that can be used for other expenses.

Reduced Maintenance Costs

Water-wise landscapes are not just water-sippers; they’re also low-maintenance. Traditional lawns require constant attention – mowing, edging, fertilizing, and weed control. These activities are not only time-consuming but also come with associated costs, including fuel for lawnmowers (think about the gas prices these days!) For those with larger traditional lawns, zero-turn mowers for sale can be a time-saving option. While these mowers offer increased efficiency by allowing for faster turns and maneuvering, they come with a higher upfront cost compared to a traditional push mower.

The time saved on maintenance is another benefit. Many homeowners, especially busy professionals and retirees, value their free time. Water-wise landscapes free up time that can be spent on hobbies, relaxing, or spending time with loved ones. This intangible benefit adds to the overall appeal of water-wise landscaping.

Long-Term Investment

While initial costs for installing water-wise landscapes might be slightly higher than traditional lawns, they pay off in the long run. Reduced water bills and lower maintenance needs create significant savings over time. Moreover, certain cities and water providers provide rebates and incentives to motivate homeowners to switch. These incentives can assist in offsetting the initial investment, making water-efficient landscaping an even more appealing choice.

For example, the City of Greeley offers a $1 per square foot rebate for removing Kentucky bluegrass, along with rebates for water-efficient irrigation systems. These incentives can significantly reduce the upfront cost of converting a lawn to a water-wise landscape. Additionally, some local nurseries offer discounts on native plants, further reducing the financial barrier to entry.

When considering the long-term economic benefits, water-wise landscaping becomes a smart investment. The initial cost may be slightly higher, but the long-term savings on water bills, maintenance, and potential rebates make it a financially sound decision for homeowners.

Increased Property Value

Studies have shown that homes with attractive landscaping can command higher selling prices. Interestingly, water-wise landscapes are no exception. The appeal of a beautiful, low-maintenance yard that also contributes to environmental sustainability can be a selling point for potential buyers.

Many homebuyers today are environmentally conscious and appreciate sustainable features. A well-designed water-wise landscape demonstrates a homeowner’s commitment to environmental responsibility. This can be a positive factor for potential buyers, especially younger generations who prioritize sustainability. Additionally, the reduced maintenance needs of water-wise landscapes can be appealing to busy buyers who don’t have the time or energy to constantly care for a traditional lawn.

This translates to potentially higher property values for homeowners who embrace water-wise practices. A study by the National Gardening Association found that homes with well-maintained landscaping can sell for 5-10% more than comparable homes with poor landscaping. While the exact impact of water-wise landscaping on property values is still being studied, the potential for increased value is another economic benefit to consider.

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