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Lose the turf, gain a garden

As water resources dwindle in the U.S. west due to drought and climate change, Colorado residents are tossing the turf and opting instead for rain gardens.

DENVER — More and more homeowners are doing away with a traditional turf lawn in order to conserve a lot of water.

"The average American uses 160 to 180 gallons of water per day and then here in Colorado, about half of that is used on our outdoor irrigation," according to Jessica Thrasher with Colorado State University.

Over the last year, she and a team of volunteers installed rain gardens across the Front Range as part of a pilot program. It's a simple and attractive way to save not just a little but a lot of water. 

More than 300 people applied for the program. Jono Edwards was one of the lucky ones selected. He not only wanted to save water but money as well.

 "Well, when the water bill comes, we just your heart kind of goes, 'Ahhh'," Edwards said. "You don't want to be using so much water on your lawn and it's great to be able to conserve."

So how do these things work? They replace non-native water-thirsty lawn with not nearly as thirsty native plants.

Also, the rainwater that would normally runoffs into the street, where it picks up pollutants from the ground, is instead collected in the garden where it is naturally filtered and absorbed back into the earth.

The program also gave away rain barrel kits.

Rain barrels collect rain from your rooftop to use to water your yard and gardens.

"A 1000 square foot roof and one inch rain will yield over 623 gallons of water," explained Thrasher. "That's plenty of water to water beautiful Colorado landscapes."

You cut your water use and those water bills.

There are all sorts of other incentives these days to toss that turf.

The Colorado Water Center even has tutorial on its website showing, step-by-step how to build your own rain garden.

In addition, Colorado's Turf Replacement program went into effect last summer.

It offers funding to communities so they can replace turf in order to reduce outdoor water usage.

It's also pretty easy to do yourself. A rain barrel kit will cost you about $90 dollars.

A one-time expense that will save you on your water bill for decades.

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