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Embracing Xeriscaping: A Guide to Water-Wise Landscaping in Thornton

Welcome to the blog of Chris and Melissa Lombardo, Colorado Realtors! We are

delighted to provide you with valuable information about xeriscaping and water-wise landscaping in the City of Thornton. In this article, we will discuss the guidelines and code requirements for creating a beautiful, low-water landscape for your residential property. Let's dive in!

The City of Thornton allows and encourages xeriscaping, a landscaping method that conserves water through the use of drought-tolerant plants, efficient irrigation systems, and mulching techniques. Xeriscaping not only reduces water usage but also minimizes maintenance needs and enhances the beauty of your property.

Unlike many other cities, Thornton does not have a minimum amount of lawn required for existing residential properties. However, it is important to note that regular maintenance is mandatory, regardless of your chosen landscape design.

According to the City's regulations, all areas of your lot that are not covered by buildings, sidewalks, decks, patios, or driveways must be landscaped or mulched. Weeds and bare ground are not considered landscaping. Landscaping includes living plant materials such as trees, shrubs, grass, groundcovers, flowers, etc., as well as other features like fountains, pools, and benches.

Mulching is an effective way to retain soil moisture and inhibit weed growth. It includes materials like rock, stone, bark, and other organic or inorganic substances. The use of mulch is highly encouraged under the water-wise landscaping guidelines.

Artificial turf is permitted in limited applications. If you plan to install artificial turf, you must obtain a permit. It is allowed in side yards that are not visible from the public right of way and backyards. However, the use of artificial trees, shrubs, vines, or other plants is strictly prohibited.

Water-wise Landscaping City Code:

Thornton mandates water-wise landscaping for all development, private or public. This acknowledges the semi-arid climate and limited water availability for outdoor uses. The city code emphasizes the use of low water-demand turf and plants, grouping plants with similar water requirements, and employing efficient irrigation systems.

HOAs and Water-wise Landscaping:

Under Colorado HB 19-1050, homeowners associations (HOAs) cannot prohibit the use of xeriscape or drought-tolerant vegetative landscapes. However, HOAs can establish guidelines and rules regarding the design and aesthetics of drought-tolerant plantings and hardscapes.


Xeriscaping is both allowed and encouraged in the City of Thornton, promoting a water-wise approach to landscaping that respects the semi-arid climate. By incorporating drought-tolerant plants, efficient irrigation systems, and appropriate mulching, residents can create beautiful, low-water landscapes that enhance the appeal and sustainability of their properties. Contact us for more information and expert guidance on navigating the water-wise landscaping requirements in Thornton.

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