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Sustainable Landscaping

Xeric Demonstration Gardens and Community Gardens

A five-acre site located at 17th Avenue and Reservoir Road, UNC’s Xeric Demonstration Gardens provides the community with an opportunity to learn how to save water in their own landscapes through good landscape planning and irrigation design, and incorporates the basic elements of food, water and cover needed to attract urban wildlife. The emphasis is on selection of native and low-water use plants, and drip irrigation is prevalent in this demonstration garden.
Plants were selected for the garden to dispel the notion that all xeric plantings consist mostly of beds with aggregate and larger rocks and a few plants resistant to drought. Rather, the planting beds in the Xeric Demonstration Gardens display examples of low maintenance plant species that require minimal water, but are colorful and create habitat for wildlife.

Native, non-native and ornamental grasses have been specifically used in the gardens to demonstrate to homeowners examples of alternative selections for commonly used grasses in lawns and flowerbeds. Here the homeowner can observe firsthand the growth habit of these plants and perhaps better visualize how these selections might be used to replace water-consuming grasses and plants in their own lawns and gardens.The space includes a non-potable irrigation water retention pond and community garden plots.

In 2007, the garden became the first site for the Community Gardens Project. Greeley residents have an opportunity to rent a garden plot at the UNC Xeric Garden. The opportunity to rent a garden plot is one of the projects coordinated by the Community Garden Advisory Committee as part of Project GROW (Gardeners Reaping Opportunities for Wellness) through the Natural Resource office at the City of Greeley.


Adopt-A-Spot is a program designed to encourage community ownership and to prevent littering through beautification and maintenance. The Department of Landscaping & Grounds feels that a cleaner and more beautiful university campus is a great asset in attracting students, faculty and staff and businesses to our area while instilling a greater pride in our campus community. Friends, co-workers and department and campus organizations can partner with Facilities Management to assist in enhancing our campus landscape.

Landscaping Master Plan

The landscape Master plan includes a directive that requires at least 20% of new landscape designs be Xeric (low water-use) in nature. The recent Butler Hancock Addition included low water-use landscape plants and drip irrigation systems. Xeric landscapes compose about 8 percent of the total landscaped acreage.

In April 2012, the University of Northern Colorado participated in the Annual Arbor Day Tree Plantings. This Arbor Day observance will be documented in UNC’s formal application in January to the Arbor Day Foundation for Tree Campus USA designation — national recognition that’s the equivalent of Tree City USA status for municipalities.

In summer, 2012, UNC conducted a campus tree inventory that counted 3,695 trees on campus. The review resulted in a more precise count than the previous survey, conducted in the late 1980s.

Future Plans

As landscaping changes and evolves across campus, choices will be made with sustainability in mind, including:

  • The use of plant material to intentionally develop microclimates and help augment architectural systems that will help to cool buildings in the summer while allowing winter solar gain.
  • Incorporate native plant materials to reduce overall water consumption.
  • Recognizing the leadership role of the UNC campus in community development, provide a method of campus growth, which is sensitive to environmental concerns.
  • Utilize a method of landscape, site and open space development, which balances aesthetic impact and environmental stewardship and sustainability.
  • Utilize updated and current landscape irrigation design technologies including rain sensors and soil moisture sensors to provide efficient use of water resources. Capture and re-use storm and irrigation water whenever feasible.
  • Group plants with like water needs and limit unnecessary expanses of turf grasses and ground covers requiring high levels of irrigation.

Employ composting, recycling, dark sky initiative and environmental conservation techniques campus wide in order to become a community example in environmental stewardship and sustainability.