Colorado Public Works Journal, Fall 2020

Fall 2020 47 In order to implement that blueprint across the state, SLM requires the support and cooperation of community stakeholders. ALCC is educating municipalities, water providers, utility companies, prop- erty or HOA managers, and landscape companies about SLM and asking them to commit to incorporating these proven sustainable landscaping practices. Employing these practices can enhance the appearance of their landscapes and saves resources by using less water and promoting healthier, regionally appropriate landscapes. The centerpiece of the initiative is a publication: Sustainable Land- scape Management: A Guide to More Sustainable Landscapes in Colorado by Janet Waibel. This manual for the SLM program de- fines the proper maintenance practices to conserve resources and maximize the natural beauty of our Colorado landscapes. The manual was drafted with input by landscape companies, munici- palities, water providers and property managers from across the state. The program currently consists of the SLM manual and a training class. Completion of the training class and a passing score on an exam following the class earns the Sustainable Landscape Man- agement certificate. What is the program’s focus? The manual covers eleven topics: • Sustainable Practices • Planting Composition • Trees • Shrubs and Groundcovers • Turf Care • Urban Soils • Managing Drainage Areas • Irrigation • Composition • Pest Management • Large Landscapes • On-the-job Safety It also compiles further resources for those interested in taking SLM a step further. While SLM establishes a baseline for responsi- ble, healthy landscape management, some landscape profession- als may wish to employ more aggressive efforts to support additional sustainability goals. Why is SLM important? Currently, there is inconsistency in landscape maintenance quality and in the level of service provided by landscape professionals in Colorado. There are no agreed-upon standards for property own- ers and managers and other stakeholders to which they can hold service providers accountable. Part of the issue is that landscape work is seen as a blue-collar job and stigmatized as an unskilled profession. Fewer young people are entering the landscape industry. As a result, there are currently significant labor shortages—the public works sector has no doubt experienced this as well. Also at issue is water availability. Colorado anticipates a greater fu- ture demand for water despite it becoming increasingly scarce. The need to reduce our water use has never been more crucial. Responsible landscape management can contribute to greater water savings. Colorado also sees higher plant and tree attrition than other mar- kets. Establishing new plants requires more resources, and regular replanting is more expensive with regards to labor, plant material purchases, and water use. Benefits of Sustainable Landscape Management Implementing SLM principles reduces water usage on properties while improving the aesthetic appearance of the properties. It also

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