Sustainability House renovation update Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, September 21, 2021 05:00 AM

Colorado Green NowThe renovation of the UCCS Sustainability Demonstration House water-wise garden was completed late this summer. Staff are planning an official opening, but those who have worked on the project are celebrating the success of a project that faced challenges related to the pandemic, supply chain issues and labor shortages in addition to the expected challenges that can occur with such an ambitious collaboration.

The goal for the front yard was to incorporate native and low-water plants, a habitat for local wildlife and a self-guided educational tour all while using common plants proven to thrive along the Front Range of Colorado.  Many demonstration gardens use plant material that can be difficult to find. Eric Moroski of Weisburg Landscape Maintenance in Colorado Springs led the project through planning and installation utilizing a preliminary plan by Lisa Pace of Colorado Springs Utilities. 

On planting day which came a little later this season than expected, UCCS students working alongside Weisburg staff contributed their labor to the process, working alongside landscape and sustainability professionals on short shifts between classes. “By the time we were ready to go it was early late July and we decided to let some of the summer heat pass before installing but we got it all done,” said Eric Moroski.

To ensure the success of the newly installed landscape, Moroski created a landscape proposal and as-builts that staff at the Sustainability House along with UCCS groundskeeping can follow. As landscape professionals know, a landscape project will never be fully completed. Low-maintenance does not mean no maintenance, and there is some effort required now to help the new installation be properly established, the site should be low-maintenance and little pruning should be needed. “I outlined a standard maintenance schedule that included both budget hours and the cost associated as if it were hired out so there can be a value shown by using volunteers,” explained Moroski.

The Weisburg team installed an irrigation system for six irrigated areas. The team at Sustainability House was provided a map with zone numbers. One challenge: current IT security measures at UCCS mean that the irrigation cannot be managed via wifi. Moroski noted that the school will need to correct that or find a workaround in order to achieve LEED certification.

The site features four distinct planting areas: a West-facing screen garden with shrubs and ground cover; a mass planting garden with more than 50 plants including Russian sage, miscanthus maiden grass, and Stella de Oro daylily; a pea gravel garden with English lavender, Blue Avena grass, phlox, and more; and a front yard with juniper, bee balm, hyssop and annual pots that can be used to feature Xeric annuals. Moroski used a Low Grow seed mix for the turf area to make it more appealing to a homeowner who might be used to bluegrass but with less inputs. One last addition Eric was able to get into the budget is a low-voltage landscape lighting system. Signage is being made and will be installed in the next several months.

The project was supported by a number of green industry companies, including:

  • Colorado Springs Utilities 
  • UCCS Green Action Fund 
  • Phelan Gardens 
  • Harding Nursery 
  • Weisburg Landscape Maintenance 
  • Rain Bird 
  • C&C Sand and Stone 
  • Rocky Top Resources 
  • SiteOne® Landscape Supply 
  • Heidrich’s Colorado Tree Farm Nursery 
  • Britton Nursery
  • Fort Collins Nursery

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green Now:
OSHA to focus on reducing heat-related hazards in the workplace
Technician boot camp offers hands-on training and test prep
Employers await OSHA vaccine mandate
Landscape pros encouraged to participate in Denver Green Code update

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