ALCC news center
ALCC members bring home NALP awards Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Monday, January 08, 2024 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) recognized three ALCC member companies during its 2023 Awards of Excellence ceremony at the annual Elevate conference and expo in Dallas this fall. The winners are:

Lifescape Colorado, Denver COO LeAnn Ostheimer, Women Leader of the year award; Residential Design/Build Gold Award for Hillside Beauty; Residential Landscape Management Gold Award for High Style in The Pines; Residential Design/Build Silver Award for Family Chic Retreat; Residential Landscape Management Silver Award for Twist of Sophistication; Residential Landscape Management Silver Award for Verdant Ascent

Singing Hills Landscape, Aurora Residential Landscape Contracting Silver Award for Amongst the Pines; Residential Landscape Contracting Gold Award for Monaco Modern

Timberline Landscaping, Colorado Springs Commercial Landscape Contracting Gold Award for Panorama Park

Northern Water wins fourth WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Monday, January 08, 2024 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Northern Water, a public agency that provides water for food production and municipal, domestic and industrial uses in Northeastern Colorado, received a WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award for its work promoting WaterSense and water efficiency in 2022.

This is the fourth year Northern Water has won the award from WaterSense, a voluntary partnership program sponsored by EPA. In its efforts to help commercial customers save water, Northern Water performed 48 landscape consultations, inspecting landscape conditions and irrigation components and recommending WaterSense-labeled irrigation controllers and sprinkler components. Northern Water also helped save more than 7 million gallons of water by funding 11 projects through its Collaborative Water-Efficient Landscape Grant Program, which requires WaterSense-labeled equipment to be installed.

“The WaterSense program and products provide an ideal foundation to promote, facilitate and celebrate water efficiency,” says Frank Kinder, Northern Water’s Water Efficiency Department manager. “The public-private partnership delivers sustained water savings and high performance, allowing comprehensive conservation of this vitally important resource on which we all rely. We appreciate the value WaterSense provides to all stakeholders.” 

Since 2006, consumers and businesses using certified water-efficient plumbing products have saved 7.5 trillion gallons of water; 880 billion kilowatt hours of energy used to pump, treat and heat water; and $171 billion in water and energy bills. These efforts have also helped prevent 337 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—equivalent to planting 5.6 billion trees.

“With extreme weather affecting water supplies and quality, saving this precious resource is more important than ever,” said Veronica Blette, chief of the EPA’s WaterSense Branch. “The 2023 award winners helped Americans look to WaterSense and save not just water, but the energy required to heat and treat it, reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use.”

Landscape and Irrigation professions can get certificates 100% reimbursed! Email
Written by City of Greeley CO   
Monday, December 11, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Greeley Water Conservation urges local landscape and irrigation professionals to pursue certifications to increase their industry knowledge and support Greeley’s water-wise values.  

Based on available funds, the City of Greeley reimburses all costs for class materials and testing fees for select certifications up to $550. Professionals must pass all required tests and receive certification for reimbursement. 

Many of the courses are in English and Spanish. For a list of qualifying courses, go to this year, Greeley City Council adopted design criteria that requires certifications for commercial landscape installations. Since then, the demand for trained industry professionals has increased.

Greeley's Water and Sewer Board also supports the program.

“In Greeley and the West, we must grow more water-wise together,” said Water and Sewer Board Chairman Harold Evans. “Greeley Water is well-positioned for the future. We must ensure our residents have access to knowledgeable, certified and prepared professionals to support Greeley's values.”

Greeley Water Conservation sees this investment as a crucial step in ensuring proper maintenance of landscapes in the community. A well-installed, maintained and programmed irrigation system reduces water use and lowers customers' water bills.

Greeley Water Conservation recommends that residents choose landscape and irrigation companies with certified staff to maximize their water savings. Residents can find these companies at

Email your questions to [email protected].

Arborist Apprenticeship as a model for workforce development Email
Written by Megan Townsend   
Monday, December 11, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Employers of all sizes struggle with recruiting, training, and retention. Apprenticeship could be the triple threat you need to help solve these workforce issues.

Recruitment: Prove to applicants and existing employees that you are invested in their career development.

Training: The apprenticeship model is a structured approach to on-the-job learning and related learning via on-line and/or classroom instruction.

Retention: Employers with registered apprenticeship have better retention rates.

Arborist Apprenticeship got its start in Colorado through the efforts of the Colorado Tree Care Sector Partnership, a collective of tree care companies and municipalities dedicated to solving workforce issues and fostering apprenticeship in Colorado. In 2017, the Sector Partnership collaborated with Front Range Community College (FRCC) in Westminster to develop the related learning curriculum delivered to most arborist apprentices in Colorado. In 2019, the first cohort of apprentices began their journey with the first four Journeyworker Arborists graduating in 2022.

Last fall, the largest cohort to date of 17 apprentices started their first year of apprenticeship.

Apprenticeship in the Denver Metro is taking hold, and we are beginning to see new programs in the Western Slope and beyond.

Developing and registering an apprenticeship seems daunting, but with the help of county and state resources, it is not at all difficult. When working with The Apprenticeship Hub, a free resource, the time investment could be less than one day.

What does apprenticeship look like for an employer? First, you need to register your apprenticeship with the state. You then need to identify people within your organization who have the skills to serve as mentors for apprentices. The state requires a 1:1 Journeyworker (mentor) to apprentice ratio. You can then begin to enroll either existing employees or recruit employees to enroll. It is best to work with a consultant with The Apprenticeship Hub to design and register your apprenticeship. The Colorado Tree Care Sector Partnership can help connect you to the right resources.

What does the training look like for apprentices? The majority of the apprentice’s hours are spent on the job learning the skills on the competency checklist. Remember, apprentices are paid employees. Separate from on-the-job training, there are about 440 hours of required related learning that can be delivered either online or in the classroom. The related learning program at Front Range Community College provides a combination of online and classroom learning. The apprentices at FRCC complete an assigned TCIA online module before attending class and then get hands-on training in a controlled environment with an instructor. These in-person classes are scheduled for a total of 13 days intermittently through the late fall and winter. This makes the related learning minimally disruptive to regular production schedules.

Can an employer have a registered apprenticeship without using Front Range Community College to deliver their related learning? Yes! While most employers utilize Front Range because of the reduced administrative burden to deliver this component of apprenticeship, there are programs registered in Colorado using a combination of TCIA modules and in-house or other training programs to deliver their related learning. This means a company does not have to be in the Denver Metro to have a registered apprenticeship.

How long does apprenticeship take? Most tree-care companies with registered apprenticeship in Colorado choose to register a competency-based model. This means once an apprentice attains all the skills on the competency list and has completed related learning, they can apply for their Journeyworker certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor. This process typically takes two to three years to complete.

What is the cost of having a registered apprenticeship? While this can vary, it is important to know there is an abundance of funding available for apprenticeship, making it very affordable. Last year and this year, a grant acquired by FRCC made tuition for the first year of apprenticeship only $150 or less per apprentice. While the tuition assistance through the grant at Front Range won’t always be available, there are workforce dollars available in every county that are easy for employers to obtain for their apprentices. It is important for applicants to connect with their county workforce center before becoming an employee to be eligible for maximum funding.

The bottom line is financial burden should not stop employers from pursuing registered apprenticeship. Grant dollars are available, and your county workforce centers are eager to help you secure them.

It is important to know there are resources and a community willing to help you set up registered apprenticeship at your company. If you would like to know more about starting a registered apprenticeship program at your company, please reach out to the Colorado Tree Care Sector Partnership at [email protected]. We meet monthly via Zoom, and anyone is invited to join our meetings to learn more about apprenticeship or just get help with workforce issues.

Pickens Tech continues to ramp up horticulture program Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Monday, December 11, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Pickens Technical College in Aurora continues to train people for landscape industry jobs by providing hands-on learning in areas such as health, insect management, irrigation skills and more.

For the past year, Pickens has been building up its program and increasing enrollment, according to Pickens instructor Rachel Durkan. The horticultural program’s name has been changed from Urban Horticulture and Landscape Management to Environmental Horticulture. “This new name encompasses more industries within horticulture and will hopefully continue to attract more students,” Durkin says.

Last year, Pickens students did a once- a-week internship/shadowing experience in which they spent 10 Mondays working on projects, apprenticeships or internships with industry leaders. This program will start again in January 2024.

The 2023-2024 school year will include six field trips in the fall semester, including the Colorado State University trial gardens and seed collections, Denver Botanic Gardens, Arbor Valley and the Waterwise Gardens in Aurora. As part of the program, all students will now earn a Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM) certificate. “All students are excited to be attending ProGreen EXPO this year,” Durkin adds.

Jessi Burg turned her passions into a successful career Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Monday, November 20, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Jessi Burg began her journey as an entrepreneur after surviving a series of toxic work environments. Convinced that there must be a way to value employees, pay a living wage and be able to work outside, she built her landscaping company, Pears to Perennials, in 2017. “After graduation from college in 2007, most of my jobs were seasonal in nature— summer camps, environmental education and urban farming,” Burg says. “So, when I opened my own landscaping company in 2017, I had a lot of ideas but was unsure about running my business. Eventually, I figured out the answers I needed and grew my business.”

Being a business owner gave Burg a voice, and she began advocating for the trades and seasonal and gig economy workers. She also learned a lot about the frustrations that can come with running a company, and that led to the launch of her second business, Outgrow Your Garage, which provides low-cost classes for business owners looking to scale.

Through Outgrow Your Garage, Burg offers online courses that teach companies how to grow sustainably, all built around the idea that professional development should fit into a professional’s workday. Burg built Outgrow Your Garage around her passion for accessible, affordable learning and inclusivity in the business world, with a mission to reduce inequity and promote strong communities through collaboration.

Designed for early-stage landscapers, Outgrow Your Garage is a culmination of what Burg wished she had known when she started in the industry, plus everything she has learned since. All courses are affordable, easy to access online and offer practical advice that helps businesses create action plans.

“I started as a landscaper, so the classes are built to solve mobile service business problems,” Burg says. “I won’t tell you how to run your business. My goal is to help businesses ask the right questions and build operations processes effectivel

Turning work into love

“I like to say that, at this point, I’m unemployable,” Burg says. “I left that one single office job because I didn’t like it—but I also wasn’t a very good employee. I like to be able to set my own hours and work on projects that interest me. I like to have the freedom to adapt my services to what’s most needed. Being self-employed means I can set up my ideal work environment.”

With Outgrow Your Garage, Burg gets to work directly with other landscape companies instead of running her own, which has given her the time and flexibility to move to the Western Slope and buy a farm.

“Ten years ago, I would never have thought I would be interested in running an online learning company for business owners,” Burg says. “I adore the problem-solving aspects. I know that I cannot fix systematic problems, but I can give tools to help companies grow.

The trades are often overlooked when it comes to business policy and ideas, Burg says. As a non-field worker, she can both advocate for small landscape businesses and also help them grow. “Good operations mean you can hire a field crew, get them set up in the morning and then do your admin work.”

Burg is building out a course-hosting platform to start licensing Outgrow Your Business content so other businesses, nonprofits, schools, libraries and industry groups can access it. “Outgrow Your Garage is an operations company,” Burg says. “A lot of business owners know what they need, but they do not know how to get there. My favorite thing to say about business is that you should aim for different problems. No business is problem-free, but if your problems are changing year to year, you are learning from your mistakes. And that’s how you build a stable business.”

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green Now:


Continue to be part of the solution


Master your numbers to navigate inflations impact


Master your numbers to navigate inflations impact Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Monday, November 20, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Regrettably, it is all too common for companies to fall behind in the face of inflation because of their failure to regularly review and adjust their rates, negotiate favorable contracts and reassess their strategies during times of economic volatility. Instead of taking a proactive approach to safeguarding their profit margins, many business leaders react only after experiencing a cash flow crisis, when they find themselves teetering on the brink of failure.

As a landscape professional, it is imperative that you recognize the impact of inflation on your financial decision-making. Inflation refers to the gradual rise in prices over time, which erodes the purchasing power of money. It affects various aspects of your operations, from the cost of materials and equipment to labor expenses.

By understanding the influence of inflation, you can strategically plan and account for increasing costs. Incorporating this knowledge into your pricing structures and budgeting processes ensures the ongoing profitability and sustainability of your business in the long term.

Throughout the past few years, I have collaborated with various industry partners to gather data and analyze inflation trends within Colorado’s landscape industry. This involved comparing these trends with the broader U.S. Consumer Price Index, which serves as a measure of core inflation across a range of goods and services, as demonstrated in Exhibits 1 and 2. Notably, Exhibit 3 highlights significant price increases of 8.3 percent in plant materials over the last year, with even steeper increases of 14.8 percent observed in landscape supplies.

Now, envision the potential impact of these rising material costs, coupled with labor expenses, on your bottom line if you fail to adjust your pricing effectively and in real time. On one hand, I have witnessed numerous companies struggle as they find themselves caught between escalating costs and stagnant prices. Conversely, those who proactively adapt their pricing strategies tend to fare well during periods of inflation. You may be wondering about the possibility of not being able to raise prices because of price-sensitive customers, potentially resulting in a loss of business. In such cases, it becomes crucial to identify alternative areas for cost-cutting or focus on improving operational efficiencies to avoid experiencing a squeeze on profits.

Furthermore, it may be worthwhile to revisit your overall business strategy to navigate these challenging economic conditions.

What can you do? Inflation has a direct impact on your bottom line and profitability, with the potential to jeopardize your business. As the prices of goods and services rise, your expenses will also increase, potentially squeezing your profit margins and ultimately affecting your cash flow. By remaining well-informed about inflation and incorporating its effects into your pricing structures and budgeting processes, you can proactively adapt to rising costs and ensure the financial stability of your business.

Here are five key tips to help you combat the detrimental effects of inflation.

1. Keep a watchful eye on inflation and other macroeconomic trends.

2. Regularly review and update your rates.

3. Consider negotiating favorable contracts to safeguard your profitability.

4. Engage in monthly Financial Strategy Review (FSR) meetings.

5. Boost your financial literacy skills.

In the second part of this series, I will delve deeper into these tips and provide insights on how to effectively weather these economic times.

Continue to be part of the solution Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Monday, November 20, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

SLC Initiative Furthers the Colorado Water Plan

In support of Colorado’s comprehensive Water Plan, released in 2015 and updated in early 2023, ALCC created the Sustainable Landscape Community (SLC) initiative to educate landscape professionals in both public and private sectors about sustainable practices and water conservation. SLC grew from the Sustainable Landscape Management (SLM) certificate program ALCC began offering in 2020.

Colorado’s ongoing, 20-plus-year drought has put increasing strain on both local and national water supplies. Climate change has severely impacted the Colorado River Basin, which provides water to 40 million people, and created historically low runoff levels, causing both Lake Mead and Lake Powell to near dead pool (inability to generate hydropower) levels. A recent study from researchers at New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory found that Colorado could see a 50 to 60 percent reduction in snow within 60 years.

In response, water utilities across the state have enacted watering restrictions to reduce outdoor water use since 2001, with more on the horizon. In fact, one major Front Range municipality reduced outdoor watering to just two days per week in 2023. ALCC created the SLC initiative to demonstrate how big water users, such as master-planned communities, HOAs and large commercial properties, are, or can become, part of the solution. SLC is a collaborative approach to implementing sustainable and water-saving practices and monitoring results to ensure cost and water savings are attained.

The first collaboration is with the Centerra community in northern Colorado. Developed by McWhinney and in partnership with High Plains Environmental Center and the Centerra Metropolitan District, Centerra will be the first to earn SLC designation in Colorado. Centerra’s SLC commitment will demonstrate how sustainable landscapes are regenerative and responsive to the environment and contribute to healthy communities.

The community will soon release a two-year study that will serve as model for other properties and communities. Now is the time to reduce water use through sustainability and answer the call to action for collaboration in Colorado’s Water Plan. If you manage, govern or oversee a community or property that wants to be recognized for its commitment to water conservation and sustainability, you can learn about the application process and find more information at

Designscapes Colorado creates beauty for every season Email
Written by Christine Manapace   
Tuesday, November 07, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

As any Green industry professional knows even the most meticulously designed and maintained landscapes are in constant flux. So, imagine the unique challenges and incredible rewards when a landscape company not only completes a stunning design-build project in natural mountain terrain, but then has the opportunity to maintain the property over 15 years. Throughout those years, Designscapes Colorado has evolved the landscape to optimize the Colorado mountain environment and its four seasons, winning 11 awards—most recently, a 2022 Gold Award for Residential Landscape Management from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).

Set on 23 acres of forested mountain terrain, the property includes a flowing river and pond. The property owners’ two primary goals when designing the outdoor space were to capitalize on the beauty of the creek and adjacent pond by providing views and access to the water and to create an inspiring setting for entertainment and relaxation. Designscapes Colorado installed a bridge across the river and pulled water from it for irrigation. The wraparound driveway has a central garden that holds a variety of plants and a sprinkling of native aspen trees, which have been planted in various other places around the property. Native plants and materials throughout the landscape complement the beauty of the natural environment. The abundance of wildlife in the area made plant selection crucial to help prevent animals from eating the new garden. The array of blossoms that thrive in each season are carefully selected and layered so that as soon as one plant is done putting on a show, another will come to life. This creates an enduring canvas of colors throughout the year.

Spring bulbs, summer blooms

In early spring, pots are decorated and planted for Easter. Then, as the weather starts to warm up, the landscape explodes with yellows, whites and blues as spring bulbs bloom. The client likes bulbs in the scillia, chionodoxa, and allium varieties, but deer- and rabbit-proof daffodil bulbs are also planted.

Perennials across the property peak during the summer and are paired with various annual flowers. Some perennial varieties used throughout the gardens include catmint little Trudy, strawberry barren, dianthus kahori, moneywort, snow-in-summer, sweet woodruff, lady’s mantle, lilacs, hydrangeas and veronica.

Every year, annual flowers are planted in rustic wood pots to add extra dashes of color during the warmer months. The flower varieties change every summer to give the property a fresh look. Designscapes Colorado also provides general maintenance services including regular mowing to help encourage strong root growth in the bluegrass, edging, fertilizing, weed control, pruning, deadheading and more.

Fall and winter interest

When bright summer colors wind down, Designscapes Colorado revamps the annual flowerpots by adding new flowers to existing summer ones or replacing them with fall flowers that can handle cold weather and frost. In the high-altitude environment, it’s essential to select hardy varieties, such as asters, snaps, pansies and violas, because the climate can change to freezing very quickly. Sometimes Designscapes Colorado adds cabbage and kale to the pots as well.

A similar rejuvenation of the annual pots happens in winter, with evergreen branches, tinsel, pinecones and other festive décor included to give holiday interest. Designscapes Colorado also hangs holiday lights and décor while performing winter maintenance services and planning for spring and summer changes.

One thing that sets this property apart, and helped earn it awards, is how Designscapes Colorado experiments with different plant pairings. Playing around with different combinations over the years has allowed for the utilization of local materials and created unexpected beauty.

Colorado Legislature addresses states water future Email
Written by Lori Tobias   
Monday, November 06, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

It’s too early to know what water-related bills Colorado legislators will take up when the legislative session convenes in January, but a bipartisan, joint committee of 10 House and Senate members has kept the subject alive throughout the summer and fall. The Water Resources and Agriculture Review Committee, charged with studying “the conservation, use, development and financing of the water resources of Colorado for the general welfare of its inhabitants,” met to discuss potential bills, visit stream restoration projects and attend the Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference in Steamboat Springs over the summer. 

Bills that make it out of the committee, which started meeting year-round last year, have a good chance of becoming law, says committee vice-chair Rep. Karen McCormick, D-District 11. “This committee has a little more power because it’s a joint committee and we have to have bipartisan support for any bill that gets out of this committee. So, for a bill to get through this committee and out with a two-thirds vote or more means that it’s probably a good idea that’s going to be able to get through the full General Assembly.” Democrats have a historic majority in the legislature, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the party has a “slam dunk” with any initiative, McCormick notes. “The larger your majority becomes, the more likely you’re going to have disparate voices within your majority. Some of your biggest support may be from the other party. So, you have to know that it’s important to really work a policy. If you want legacy policy, you need to make sure that all important voices are heard, that you’re willing to amend your bill to make it stand up over time.”

Getting tough on turf

One of the measures the Water Resources Committee may move out this fall was requested by Sen. Dylan Roberts, D-District 8. It would prohibit or limit non-functional turf grass or grass that is strictly for appearances and serves no other function. Several municipalities have started turf replacement programs, while others have adopted varied fee structures to incentivize water-wise landscaping. The City of Aurora already has in place restrictions on the use of non- functional turf grass, McCormick says.  Full story in our Colorado Green magazine.

Women in Green meets in Colorado Springs Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Tuesday, October 24, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

About 35 women gathered to network, share experiences and build relationships during Women in Green’s third networking event at Fisk Lawnscapes in Colorado Springs in September. This event marked a significant step forward for Women in Green, an ALCC committee founded earlier this year. The pleasant fall weather and the welcoming atmosphere of the Fisk Lawnscapes facility contributed to a relaxed and inviting environment, enabling authentic networking to flourish. Attendees had the chance to enjoy lunch, connect, share experiences and build valuable professional relationships.

“There were some familiar faces and new attendees as well, which is incredibly exciting to me,” says WIG committee member Charlene Farley Chacon, residential team manager at Designscapes Colorado.

“The underlying comment was gratitude for bringing women together to connect. There was great industry/vendor partner support and participation, which is awesome to see.”

This gathering was made possible through the sponsorship of ALCC and Fisk Lawnscapes. Women in Green expects to hold another networking event in late December or early January and is making plans to participate in school mentorship opportunities.

To learn more about Women in Green, contact [email protected].

Water and sales taxes on the docket for 2024 session Email
Written by Stefan Stathopulos, Hicks & Associates   
Tuesday, October 24, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

The Colorado General Assembly is gearing up for the 2024 legislative session to convene in January. It has been a busy interim; Hicks & Associates has been monitoring and attending multiple interim committees and rulemakings as well as monitoring other state boards. Interim committees are coming to an end for the year and are drafting legislation for the 2024 Legislative Session. Over the next month, interim committees will vote on whether to move forward with the drafted legislation. Hicks & Associates monitored all interim committees but closely monitored the Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force, the Legislative Interim Committee on Ozone Air Quality, Transportation Legislation Review Committee, and the Water Resources and Agriculture Review Committee (which, as of this year, is a year-round committee).

Below are some highlights on the interim committees and the drafted legislation.

Water Resources and Agriculture Review Committee.

The Water Resources and Agriculture Review Committee has drafted 16 bills but will be able to approve only 10 that can move forward with the committee’s endorsement. Bill Draft 6 – Concerning Non-Functional Turwf in New Developments is one we have been engaged on with the sponsors, and we will be part of the stake holding group as this draft moves forward. There are multiple water bills that are being drafted, and we will continue to monitor and stay engaged on them (see “Colorado Legislature works to secure the state’s water future,” page 39).

Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force

The Sales and Use Tax Simplification Task Force has drafted five bills, including one to address/fix/hold harmless, a bill to address local filing participation and a bill addressing information for vendors on sales and use tax, building permits and lodging tax. ALCC continues to support simplification of the Sales and Use Tax in the state. Water and sales taxes on the docket for 2024 session

Bills passed during the 2023 session

SB23-016 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Measures 

Over the last two sessions, ALCC/GreenCO has been working with the General Assembly on this bill, which didn’t make it through the process in 2022 but did this year. SB23-016 had many different components, but the main concern for ALCC/GreenCO was the push for electrifying small engines and lawn equipment. In 2022, the bill was looking to ban gas-powered lawn equipment, but we were able to turn this into a tax-incentive program. This bill went into effect on August 7. Even though we were able to keep the incentive program in the bill, we have seen the gas-powered lawn and garden equipment issue come up at the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC).

The AQCC will have a rulemaking hearing in December on placing new restrictions on the use of handheld and push gas-powered equipment starting in 2025. This follows the executive order that was issued by Gov. Jared Polis in September that bans the use of such equipment at state facilities in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone nonattainment area by June 2025. ALCC/GreenCO are engaged on this issue; please reach out if you would like additional information and would like to be part of the stakeholder process.

SB23-178 Water-Wise Landscaping in HOA Communities

ALCC/GreenCO were engaged with the sponsors and stakeholders as this bill went through the process. It went into effect on August 7. We have continued to see bills like this over the past couple of sessions, including HB1151- Turf Replacement Program, which could come back this year for additional General Fund moneys.

SB23-192 Sunset Pesticide Applicators’ Act

ALCC/GreenCO have been working on this bill for over two years. We were able to work with a large coalition on the passage of this bill with few changes being made from the previous Pesticide Applicators’ Act. Over the interim, we have attended rulemaking/stakeholder meetings, which include the issue of Neonicotinoid Limited Use Designation and changes made to the notification system/rules of the Pesticide Sensitive Registry. The bill went into effect on August 7. Pesticides will continue to be an issue that we will have to work on in the 2024 Legislative Session.

As we get closer to the 2024 Legislative Session, we ask that all ALCC/GreenCO members stay engaged. The more engagement we have from members, the better outcomes we will have at the legislature.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green Now:

Women in Green meets in Colorado Springs

ClimateScaping saves precious water


ClimateScaping saves precious water Email
Written by Colorado Green Now   
Monday, October 23, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

ClimateScaping saves precious water, one yard— and mind—at a time

by Robyn Lawrence

Tara O’Brien has a big vision. She wants to help Coloradans conserve 90 million gallons of water through xeriscaping and, at the same time, help landscape companies make more money by working together. And with her new company, Boulder-based ClimateScaping, she has the platform to make both things happen. O’Brien, an adjunct professor who teaches entrepreneurship and global business at the University of Colorado Boulder, realized just how much water Colorado lawns guzzle after experimenting on her own 2,300-square-foot yard in Longmont. In the process of replacing her yard’s Kentucky bluegrass with xeriscaping three years ago, she stopped watering and has saved approximately 65,000 gallons every summer.

“There are so many houses that are similar to mine, and I think in the next couple of years we could hit that 90 million gallons— and that’s still really not even a dent,” she says. It will take a united landscaping community to make this happen, O’Brien says, and she’s well aware that won’t be easy. At last year’s ProGreen EXPO, she was shocked at how many landscapers raised their hands during education sessions to ask why saving water and xeriscaping were important. “We gotta fix that,” she says.

Re-creating the modern yard

If anyone can open the landscaping community’s minds and hearts to the importance of water conservation, it would be O’Brien. With a background in business development and venture capital, she’s helped launch countless startups. She had been feeling the itch to start a company of her own for many years, but it couldn’t be just any company. It had to be one that would make a difference.

Then, a couple years ago, she did a consulting project with a landscaping company that required her to sit in on a lot of discussions about water rights, and she got up close and personal with “how dire the water situation is in Colorado,” she says. She had found a need she could fulfill: educating landscapers about xeriscaping while helping residents acquire state and federal grants for low-water projects.

O’Brien launched ClimateScaping with a mission to re-create the modern yard in ways that will address the water crisis in the West. Her first step was to acquire a landscaping company founded by two of her students at CU, who stayed on for about nine months to show O’Brien the ropes and help raise money. Then she put together a team of 10, primarily CU students studying business, landscape design, horticulture and environmental science.

“I just really love the idea of students coming out with this fresh, wanna-save-the-world mentality and bringing the latest technology into this ancient industry,” she says.

Growing partnerships and community

ClimateScaping launched in May with one client, a CU professor who had just bought a home with a yard overtaken by 3-foot-tall noxious weeds. ClimateScaping partnered with another landscaping company to scrape the topsoil and remove the weeds, then designed and installed a xeriscape. When several neighbors asked if O’Brien’s team could take on their yards next, she knew she was on to something.

Last summer, ClimateScaping worked with clients in Boulder and Longmont, and the company is starting to help Louisville residents who are rebuilding after the Marshall Fire. ClimateScaping often partners with other landscaping companies to provide services like hardscaping that it doesn’t have the capability to do itself.

“We spent a lot of time over the summer getting to understand what people want,” O’Brien says. “And it’s so fascinating to me to see how genuinely excited people are about this.”

Because maintenance is so critical to keeping xeriscapes attractive, ClimateScaping provides annual contracts for “comprehensive garden and landscape stewardship,” including weeding, plant health assessments and treatments, water monitoring and irrigation, plant division and replacement, and much more. “So, clients always get to see the pretty,” O’Brien says. “We just don’t ever let them see the weeds.”

O’Brien has plans to expand the company to include FireScapes, defensible yards that protect homes with fire-resistant plants and materials, and FoodScapes, fresh produce gardens. But she is most excited about helping other landscapers open ClimateScaping businesses across Colorado through an open-source model.

“My goal is to build a model that we can give to all landscapers—how to educate and sell xeriscaping to homeowners, how to train staff, how to plant the plants so they’ll actually survive—so it’s like a force that spreads across the West,” she says. “I would love to get more landscape companies thinking bigger picture rather than just the jobs they need to do this week. If we band together, even a little bit, I think landscapers can make five times as much money as they are right now.”

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