CSU study finds return on investment for proper landscaping

FORT COLLINS — A study from Colorado State University has found that only 3 percent of Colorado’s water supply goes to landscaping, but that 3 percent can have significant return on investment economically, environmentally and socially.

The report was commissioned by the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and researched independently by professors of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at CSU.

The study used the Colorado Water Plan to determine that just 3 percent of Colorado’s total water is used for outdoor irrigation, compared to the more than 60 percent of water that leaves the state to be consumed by downstream users.

There are benefits to water used for irrigation. The report found that 25 percent fewer crimes occur in public housing with landscapes, and that 55 square feet of lawn can provide enough oxygen for one person for one day.

About 48 pounds of carbon dioxide is absorbed by one tree each year, and 7 percent higher rents are paid on commercial sites with attractive landscapes.

Three trees placed well around the home can save about $100 to $250 annually in energy costs because the cooling effects their shade provides.

And every dollar invested in a home landscape yields a return of $1.35, according to the study.

Although there are benefits to outdoor irrigation, it’s still critical to manage lawns responsibly and environmentally. They can conserve biodiversity and protect soil and water resources, but it’s critical not to overwater them, especially in times of drought.

The report recommends to have a landscape that provides a return and is environmentally responsible, to select plants that have low water requirements and to prioritize watering large shrubs and trees before more easily replaceable plants. It also recommends using mulch to reduce evaporative water loss, repair broken equipment in a sprinkler system and to follow irrigation restrictions.