Photo of Broomfield's Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. Photo credit: City and County of Broomfield.
On August 22, 2023, the Broomfield City Council unanimously adopted Ordinance No. 2215 which amends the Broomfield Municipal Code to be one of the strongest waterwise landscaping ordinances in Colorado. This was done as part of WaterNow Alliance’s Project Accelerator Program, with the goal to develop a new landscape ordinance that would reduce the amount of water intensive cool-season turfgrass and promote water efficient landscaping practices for new and redevelopment of residential and commercial properties.
Water conservation is one of the City and County of Broomfield’s top sustainability initiatives. In Broomfield, 60-70% of the water supply is dedicated to outdoor water use each year. Broomfield has already made considerable investments in the replacement of existing cool season turfgrass with drought-resilient and climate-appropriate landscaping alternatives. As Broomfield grows, installing low-water plant alternatives with efficient irrigation systems in new development and redevelopment is one of the community’s biggest opportunities to improve water supply resilience in the face of a hotter and drier future.
WaterNow, in collaboration with partners at Western Resource Advocates, supported these efforts through review of Broomfield’s draft landscape ordinance and corresponding landscape reference manual, two stakeholder engagement meetings to gather and incorporate feedback from local landscape practitioners and the public, and development of communication and outreach materials.
The ordinance is supplemented by a Landscape Reference Manual which contains the necessary guidelines, criteria, maps, plant lists and other provisions. The primary intent of the new landscape regulations - which now applies to residential, commercial, and industrial development - is to reduce outdoor water consumption and improve the visual quality of Broomfield. The new ordinance applies to landscape plans approved after January 1, 2024.
Notably, the updated landscape ordinance requires all new development and redevelopment (except for golf courses and multi-purpose fields) to limit turfgrass. Multi- family and single-family attached, manufactured home parks and non-residential districts are limited to 30% of the total landscaped area, with grass blends of no more than 20% cool-season grass species. Single-family detached and agricultural and estate districts are limited to a maximum of 30% of the total landscape, of visible side and front yards, with grass blends of no more than 20%. The new landscape requirements in the updated code apply to all new development and all redevelopment. The table below includes examples of when Broomfield’s updated landscape ordinance applies to sample property modifications.
|Sample modifications for code compliance
|Code compliance required?
|No changes to a given property.
|Property owner replaces all front and backyard landscaping.
|HOA replaces common area landscaping.
|Property owner adds an uncovered porch.
|Property owner adds a small garage, expanding gross floor area by 20%.
|Homeowner adds a second floor, expanding gross floor area by more than 65%.
|Business owner adds an addition, expanding gross floor area by 65%.
|The primary building on a property is completely demolished and rebuilt.
|A new mixed-use neighborhood is built.
|A business owner expands their existing 8-space parking lot adding 8 new spaces.
Broomfield’s updated landscape ordinance will be instrumental in meeting their goal of reducing total system water demand by 10% in 2040, outlined in their 2020 Water Efficiency Plan. In addition to saving water, the waterwise landscape ordinance will help lower water bills, support landscape investments, and support local wildlife, pollinators and the environment while better reflecting the native Front Range landscape.
Thank you to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for providing the funding that made this project possible. We look forward to the opportunity of working on similar projects with additional Colorado communities in the future. The next Colorado Regional Project Accelerator Round will open in Winter 2024. Stay tuned for more information or reach out to Victoria Arling at [email protected]!