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Tough Turf

After another dry summer, some Falcon residents are feeling the pain of high water bills.Water is expensive if you use too much, said Larry Bishop, district manager of the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District, which provides water for the Woodmen Hills development.Although the district currently imposes no restrictions on the amount of water residents can use, homeowners are limited to watering on certain days based on their house number.The schedule is an attempt to even out the demand, “so that I don’t have a huge demand on a small system that can’t meet it,” Bishop said.High water prices may encourage homeowners to think about landscaping alternatives such as artificial grass.Stacy Hardman operates A1 Water Free Lawns of Southern Colorado, a local company that installs artificial grass in the Falcon area.At 12 cents a square foot, real sod may be cheap, but watering it can become unaffordable, Hardman said. “We’ve installed grass for several people in our neighborhood because they just can’t afford to water.”With the high cost of water, most people will pay for their yard in less than two years, she said.The artificial grass Hardman installs comes in shades of green and a little brown, like natural grass, and in different lengths. “Each of the different styles we sell resembles grasses such as Kentucky blue grass, rye and fescue,” Hardman said.Artificial grass has the added bonus of eliminating mowing and eliminating or reducing the size of irrigation systems, she said.However, some homeowner associations have been reluctant to allow the installation of artificial grass, Hardman said.”Our attitude is if you can conserve water you should,” said Shirley Haskew, who works for Management Specialists, which handles Woodmen Hills filing 11.”The board of directors of an HOA approves landscaping plans in accordance with the guidelines that were created when the builder first developed the community.”In 10 years of managing HOAs, Haskew said she knows of only one instance where a homeowner installed artificial grass, and that was without the approval of the HOA. “The board just kind of went with the flow,” she said.”I don’t think the board is against artificial grass,” said a representative (who asked to remain anonymous) of Colorado Management, which handles Woodmen Hills filings one through 10, except filing seven.”I can’t imagine the board wouldn’t consider something like that because I’ve seen other homes that already have it, but that was probably done before our time.”A proposal to cover an entire yard with artificial grass might be a problem, but if somebody wanted to do it in pieces and incorporate it into their landscape, I can’t imagine it would be a problem.”According to the covenants for Meridian Ranch, “The use of artificial turf is prohibited unless expressly approved by the Design Review Council No. 1.”Xeriscape is another alternative to the high cost of watering.Although artificial grass requires no water, it does not adhere to the principles of xeriscape, said Kathleen Hassman, a representative of Denver Water, the company holding the trademark on the term “xeriscape.”According to their Web site, Denver Water defines xeriscape as a “method of landscaping that promotes water conservation,” using several established principles that include the following:

  • Soil improvements to overcome clay soils that absorb water slowly, resulting in run-off, and to improve the ability of sandy soils to retain moisture
  • Efficient irrigation
  • Grouping of plants that have similar light and water requirements
  • The use of mulch to keep plant roots cool, prevent soil from crusting, minimize evaporation and reduce weed growth
  • The use of turf alternatives such as buffalo grass, blue grama grass, turf-type tall fescue and fine fescues, instead of bluegrass
For more information on xeriscape, see’s note: Meridian Ranch representatives did not return NFH calls.

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