Flowers to the People: Aspen Offering Discounts on ‘Garden in a Box’ Kits

Flowers to the People: Aspen Offering Discounts on ‘Garden in a Box’ Kits

The city of Aspen is offering discounts on low-water garden kits that could help the city meet its water conservation goals for 2030.

Starting Monday, Aspen property owners can pre-order their garden kits. The city is providing a $25 discount on 50 kits purchased for installation in Aspen. The kits, which vary in size, run from $127 to $182. Buyers can pick up their kits on June 8 at Paepcke Park.

The kits come from Boulder-based nonprofit Resource Central’s annual “Garden in a Box” program. Each kit contains a selection of starter plants, plant-by-number maps for easy installation, and a comprehensive care guide for watering schedules and seasonal maintenance tips. The gardens are meant to replace turf lawns with low-water native plants.

Buyers can choose their kits based on plant selection, size and price. The city is sponsoring five of the available kits because their plant selections are well suited for high alpine environments. Species in these kits include columbines, black-eyed susans, blanket flowers and yarrow, according to Megan Killer, a plans review technician at the city.

Rob Gregor, the city’s utilities permit coordinator, said the city has partnered with Resource Central on this program in the past and that city staff contacted them this year to rekindle the relationship. At the same time, the organization has historically focused their programs on the Front Range and decided to increase efforts in high mountain areas this year, Gregor said.

“It was a nice coincidence that we were thinking of each other and just wanted to bring it back,” Gregor said.

Gregor said the program fits into ongoing city efforts to conserve water. According to the city’s 2023 updated Municipal Water Efficiency Plan, population growth and the impacts of climate change are expected to increase the demand for Aspen’s water supply in coming years. To successfully meet those demands without acquiring more supplies or building a water storage facility (like a reservoir), the plan estimates the city will need to save 520 acre-feet of water by 2030. That means reducing the city’s 2012-2019 average annual water use by about 14% over the next six years.

The plan shows that outdoor irrigation accounts for 45% of the city’s total use. Demand for outdoor irrigation water tends to spike in mid to late summer and during drought years, exactly when the city’s existing water supplies are getting low.

As opposed to green lawns, Killer said Resource Central’s gardens only need to be watered during their first summer and fall. After that, she said the native plant species should be able to survive on natural precipitation.

“We’re showing people that you can still have a beautiful yard, you can still have color and flowers in your yard, and you don’t need to use as much water as you might think,” Killer said.

The gardens can cover rough areas between 50 and 100 square feet, Killer said. Killer added that property owners can reconfigure the gardens to their liking or stick with the design laid out in the plant-by-number maps.

Gregor said property owners installing garden kits could cover up to $2,500 in expenses for professional lawn removal services through the city’s Water Efficiency Assessment and Rebate program. Gregor said that if property owners are hoping to get a rebate, they should contact the city before installing their new gardens.

In addition to the discounted units available online at Resource Central’s website, property owners could win three free kits in a Parks and Open Space raffle giveaway at the city’s Arbor Day celebration on June 8 at Paepcke Park (the same time and place where online purchasers can pick up their pre-ordered kits). Gregor noted that the parks department will also give away free tree saplings at the event.

Interested property owners can pre-order their kits at the Resource Central’s Garden in a Box program webpage. Purchasers should choose Aspen as their water provider. Aspen gardens are labeled “Aspen Only.”

“They will sell out,” Gregor said. “They usually sell out within a couple of weeks.”


By: Austin Corona| Aspen Daily News I March 2, 2024

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