Castle Rock is a beautiful place to live and one of the Town's goals is to help homeowners reduce their water usage while maintaining beautiful landscapes. The intent of designing a ColoradoScape with low-water-use plants is to reduce water usage while creating greater plant diversity. ColoradoScapes can be so much more rewarding than a traditional lawn with more vibrancy but less care, maintenance and most of all water.

Designing a ColoradoScape

Plan, plan, plan

Good landscaping does have a theme. Whether going for a mountain scene or cottage feel, ColoradoScape design should be more than a spattering of plants in a sea of rocks. The Seven Principles of Xeriscape will assist you if you decide to go low water. If you have a homeowner's association (HOA), be sure to have your design approved by them. While Senate Bill 13-183 requires HOAs to allow xeriscaping, there are some restrictions that are still enforceable. 

Also, keep in mind Castle Rock lies between 5,946 and 6,860 feet in elevation with more than 300 days of sunshine and less than 15 inches of annual precipitation. Our United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zone is 5b.

The environment of individual plants can help in their success

Plant size

Be aware of the mature height and width of the plant. Do not be impatient; a plant will take 2 to 3 years to truly become established.

Sun exposure

Plants in the south-facing areas of a yard will typically get much more sun and require more water. Observe sun / shade patterns in your yard.


Castle Rock is USDA hardiness zone 5b. If you are concerned about a plant’s hardiness, provide winter protection (such as placing it closer to a building or large rocks.) Some perennials will act as annuals if conditions are too harsh. Do not rely on the tags of plants that are not grown in Colorado. If in doubt ask your local garden center or Colorado State University (CSU) extension service.

Soil conditions

Most plants will do better if organic matter is added to the soil. We recommend adding 4 inches of organic compost and tilling down 6 inches. Having good, organic soil is one of the best techniques to ensure a healthy garden.

Drainage and slope

Not all plants will do better if there is more water in the area. Check areas in your landscape that get extensive drainage, are hard to water or have steep slopes. Some plants do better in these adverse conditions and some may require soil amendment, terracing, etc.

Irrigate efficiently

Group plants according to their watering needs and provide an irrigation system designed for that zone. Also, place high-water plants in easy-to-water areas and take advantage of downspouts. Drip systems and soaker hoses tend to be more efficient for flowers and shrubs as they slowly apply the water directly to the base of the plant. Keep in mind, true xeric plants will require 2-3 years of watering before becoming established. Many xeric plants will not do well if they are overwatered.

Think of seasonal interest

Every plant behaves differently in each season. Design your yard with color and texture during every season. Don’t trim or prune unless necessary to increase visual interest during the off season.

Perennials have a variety of bloom times throughout the year as well as differing spring and fall colors. Also, dead-heading spent blooms can increase the blooming period.

Trees and shrubs, whether deciduous or evergreen, each have seasonal interest. Consider bark color and texture when choosing trees, and also if they flower or bear fruit. Keep in mind, many newer hybrid trees are not fruit bearing.