Keeping a garden adequately watered can be an issue in Colorado regardless of whether or not it’s at a school.  Keeping it watered at a school comes with its own problems and solutions.  First of all, a school will need to account for the cost of watering a garden separately from other expenses.  Different schools have chosen to manage this in various ways.  The most common is to install an individual tap so that it is metered separately from other water uses.  Installing a tap can cost between five and ten thousand dollars, however, Colorado Springs Utilities has graciously waived fees for some school gardens in the area!  They may do the same for your school.  Another option is to use the existing irrigation line.  To account for the cost, some have decided to simply compare the water use to past years.  Be prepared to discuss this issue with administration and find the solution that works best for your school.

Natural sources of water

Utilizing rain water can reduce your utility costs and help your garden to thrive.  Plants love rain water but it is illegal to hold rain water in Colorado.  You are permitted to redirect any water that falls onto your property.  However, do be cautious of any harmful run-off from parking lots and tarred roofs, for example, if you attempt to utilize rain water on school grounds.  It may be helpful to create simple mounds and trenches so that water is running from areas that do not need as much moisture and pooling in areas where plants can utilize excess moisture.  Water naturally flows to different areas so why not use that to your advantage?  Plus, kids can come up with fun games at watering times like a pretend town becoming flooded.

A few more tips:

  • Watering in the early morning or late evening with a drip hose system will prevent losing as much moisture to evaporation.
  • Cover the garden with mulch or hay in the winter time to help the soil retain moisture.  You can also use gathered leaves from the school grounds!  They will help to retain moisture and possibly decompose adding nutrients to garden soils.
  • Be prepared to adjust watering schedules to local watering restrictions and the needs of your garden.

Details on rainwater and graywater reuse use in Colorado:  http://water.state.co.us/SURFACEWATER/SWRIGHTS/Pages/RainwaterGraywater.aspx


Page Authored by: Heather A. McMillin

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