Conservation Campus and Gardens

Campus is a Tool for Water Efficiency and Best Practices 

Northern Water’s Conservation Campus and Gardens span several acres of the Berthoud headquarters campus to provide public education on various plants, turf and conservation techniques that can achieve water savings in landscapes. Overall, guests to the gardens will discover efficient irrigation methods and see hundreds of plant varieties that thrive in Colorado’s semiarid climate.  

The vision for the gardens started long before they became a reality. Early on our program focused on agricultural water conservation and providing practical water conservation information to homeowners, industry and landscape professionals. The Conservation Gardens support that mission. When we moved to our current headquarters in Berthoud in 2002, planning began for the backyard gardens. The gardens opened in 2007.  

The gardens include various demonstration areas for native and alternative grasses, irrigation technologies, soil preparation and a xeriscape plaza that highlights several Colorado-friendly landscaping themes. The demonstrations are a great resource for the public to study and implement in their personal landscapes. 

Conservation Gardens in bloom at Northern Water headquarters.

Overall, the Conservation Gardens are designed to promote and demonstrate the 7 Principles of Xeriscape: planning and design, efficient irrigation, mulches, appropriate maintenance, soil improvements, zoning of plants and turf alternatives. 

New demonstrations are also in the planning stages that will help chart a path for future water efficient landscapes to be mindful of our water supplies and how we can ensure they will be available for centuries to come. 

A Move Toward a Conservation Campus 

In recent years we’ve expanded our focus to take our practices and evaluations of landscape management and water use efficiency throughout our campus to provide additional demonstration examples.  

C-BT Interpretive Area at Northern Water's Berthoud Headquarters

C-BT Project Interpretive Area

While simple in concept, the design of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project can be quite complex so Northern Water created a C-BT interpretive area in the backyard of the Berthoud headquarters. This small-scale replica includes a recirculating water feature with 12 reservoirs, the Continental Divide and the Alva B. Adams Tunnel to give people a feel for the project and how water is delivered. 

Fall colors in the C-BT Interpretive Area at Northern Water's Berthoud Headquarters

Native Grasses

Native grasses require less irrigation, mowing and chemical treatment. Colorado native grass species support and maintain the native ecosystem. The use of native species is beneficial because they are adapted to our region. They require less need for irrigation, mowing and chemical treatments, while also providing a beneficial habitat for a variety of pollinators, birds and other species. 

Trees in Northern Water backyard

Trees 

Northern Water has added numerous trees throughout the years to its Berthoud headquarters campus. From a distance they are beautiful, strong and resilient. Behind the scenes they are improving air quality, creating oxygen, cleaning water, providing habitat, cultivating health and wellness, increasing property value and reducing surface temperatures. Find our tree map on the Colorado Tree Coalition website.

Stormwater basin on Northern Water Berthoud campus

Stormwater Basins

On the Northern Water Berthoud and Willow Creek campuses, stormwater basins maximize surface area to naturally collect and filter nutrients and minerals. Our retention basin is designed to permanently maintain and control stormwater. These basins are surrounded by natural vegetation to improve bank stability and to assist with water filtration. 

Electric car charging station, pump in car

Electric Vehicle Chargers

Thanks to Charge Ahead Colorado, an initiative from the Colorado Energy Office, Northern Water received a grant to help fund the installation of an electric vehicle (EV) charging station. Northern Water also has additional chargers in the parking lot to the west that support our Conservation Campus. These Level 2 chargers have two charging ports per charger. 

Watersense faucet in bathroom

Indoor Features

In 2018, Northern Water began addressing efficiency opportunities within our building by retrofitting our restrooms with WaterSense-approved fixtures that will save us at least 20 percent on our restroom water use. A campus wide landscape irrigation audit identified opportunities to improve our irrigation efficiency and remove nonpractical turf areas. 

Gardens are a Teaching Tool 

Since its beginning, the Conservation Gardens have served as a teaching tool for the green industry and public. We host technical tours for water professionals, landscapers, contractors, consultants, students and the public. This allows people to get into the gardens and discover the information available.  

While we continue to host a variety of classes and professional teaching opportunities in the gardens, we also focus our demonstrations on tips for the general public and what they can do in their own landscapes to save water through plant selection, irrigation maintenance and management.  

Tour the Conservation Gardens and Campus

Visitors to the Conservation Gardens and the C-BT Interpretive Area are welcome to wander the gardens on their own and learn through the signage and brochures available. The gardens are open daily from sunrise to sunset. Looking for more? We’d also be happy to take you on a tour. Please call 800-369-7246 or email Lindsay Nerad.

Attendees at a Northern Water Gardens class.

Conservation Gardens Story Map  

Take a virtual tour of our Conservation Gardens to see more than 700 Colorado-friendly plants, grasses and shrubs, while also learning about efficient irrigation techniques. 

Conservation Gardens Story Map