Goodbye grass, hello lower water use

Homeowners in lengthy process of xeriscaping

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Al and Denise Quartararo, raised in Brooklyn, working in Manhattan — where they said you could only see the sky if you looked straight up past the huge skyscrapers — wanted so much to live in Colorado.

And so years ago, the newlyweds left their jobs and just moved, driving across the country in a green Ford Torino. Al, a lead systems analyst, IBM computer guy, quickly re-established himself. And more than 20 years ago they built their dream house in a big-sky spot next to a pasture of horses in the then sparsely populated Castle Pines North, now the incorporated city of Castle Pines.

They hiked, they fished, they wanted to be part of nature, not against it. But they distinctly remember the person they had designing a landscape plan for them, who stood on their porch and proclaimed that “you want grass from one end to the other.”

So they put in 8,500 square feet of that needed and beautiful bluegrass sod.

Now, they're ripping out most of it, quite a bit at a time.

“This is a precious resource,” Al Quartararo said, referring to water. “You don't use 50,000 gallons of it (in a month).”

But back when they still had all 8,500 square feet, that's what they were doing.

Now, they only have 2,900 square feet left, since through the past nine years they've been switching section by section to xeriscaping. Last month's water bill showed they only used 17,000 gallons of water.

The Quartararos said they moved from an area that had plenty of water, so they don't think they were as sensitive as they should have been to the water issues here. But they also were raising kids, who used the backyard along with the neighbors for athletic competitions. So the grass was good then. But the children are grown and gone and the Quartararos are retired.

They first started pulling out their sod from the side yards, and started redesigning. They're self-taught, plus they do things like attend Castle Pines North Metro District xeriscaping workshops. They've learned the importance of Triple X plants, which in the xeriscaping world means those plants that only need a half- inch of water every two weeks. Xeriscaping's Double X plants, not quite as desirable, only need a half-inch of water every week.

“If it's not two x or three x, I don't want it,” Denise said.

Denise pointed out a large area of living and colorful plants that hasn't been watered since June.

Their accomplishments have led to a chance to win a contest.

The Quartararos are entered in this year's Castle Pines North Metro District xeriscaping contest.

A qualifying Castle Pines yard needs only 400 square feet of xeriscaping, said a metro district spokesman.

Winners, who are already saving water, will save more — with big credits on their water bills.

For more information and to enter before the Sept. 2 deadline, go to www.cpnmd.org.

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