grass at trailwinds park

Naturally Thornton

The City of Thornton is proactively responding to the impacts of the global pandemic and will manage a citywide reduction in resources by expediting the implementation of our Sustainable Parks & Open Space Plan in order to save money and water.

The City of Thornton manages over 140 miles of trails and 2500+ acres of parks and open space for residents to enjoy aesthetically and personally. Daily operations and maintenance are coupled with planning for the future of these spaces. In 2019 the city began developing a long-term plan for transitioning low-use spaces from traditional, water-intensive turf-grass, into sustainable, Colorado-friendly water-wise landscapes and grass.

  • A sustainable landscape is an attractive environment that is in balance with the local climate and requires minimal resource inputs, such as fertilizer, pesticides, gasoline, staff time, and water.

  • The city originally planned to transition parks and open spaces by immediately installing low-water use and/or native grass and plant alternatives, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the approach that will allow existing high-water grasses to expire with low-to-no maintenance in the short term and wait for the replacement of native grass and plant alternatives in the future. 

  • The City has categorized all parks and open space properties into three different tiers to prioritize the sustainability conversion. The Tiered Approach includes:
    • Tier 1 (blue) = normal irrigation and maintenance (mowing, fertilization, etc.);
    • Tier 2 (yellow) = reduced irrigation and maintenance with flexibility to either return to turf-grass or  transition to more sustainable landscapes in the future;
    • Tier 3 (red) = no irrigation with definite plans to transition into sustainable prairie grasses and water-wise landscape when resources are available.

      Find which projects are taking place near you by visiting our projects map link.

  • With low-to-no maintenance, residents will see some browning of the grasses in Tier 2 parks while seeing a complete browning of the Tier 3 parks until resilient and sustainable landscapes can be installed. 

  • Benefits of a Sustainable landscape include:
    • Water conservation
    • Reducing our carbon footprint with less chemicals and gasoline
    • Enhancing native and resilient vegetation
    • Increasing biodiversity of plants, pollinators, and other wildlife
    • Providing a landscape that is more sustainable to the ecosystem long-term
    • Staff time redirection and fiscal savings

Since 2007 Thornton Water customers have been learning how to save more water at home. Our water efficiency campaign has continued to promote indoor and outdoor water efficiency including the H2Ovehraul Program that helps residents convert part of their yards into water-wise landscapes. In addition to the city's demonstration gardens, we are applying these practices throughout the city in our parks and open spaces. 

  • Thornton is "walking the talk" by transitioning to more Colorado-friendly landscapes in our parks and open space.

  • Water efficiency is important both for water customers and for city operations.

  • Thornton Water is leading by example to illuminate the idea that converting high-water turf into water-wise landscapes can achieve aesthetically pleasing outdoor space. 

  • Water efficiency may look different for parks and open spaces than it does for residential customers. For example, daily irrigation system audits on public property and watering recreational sports turf requires a systematic cycle that may include watering during the day which is not recommended for Thornton Water customers. 

  • Thornton Water's H2Overhaul Kit helps water customers with step-by-step instructions for transitioning a portion of their yard into water-wise landscaping that can increase curb appeal, promote biodiversity and increased wildlife, and save water on monthly water bills.