Third Cherry Creek Townhouse Corporation
managed by Realty One Property Management (303) 834-0311
The official web home of Cherry Creek III HOA
Colorado's first HOA to win a Habitat Hero award (2014)

Colorado WaterWise 2015 statewide Conservation Award winner


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Community Garden & Landscaping

  Topics on this page:
* Community Garden
* The award-winning Landscape Improvement Program (LIP)

This is how we used to look a few years ago:
    Built in 1965, Cherry Creek 3 used landscaping of that era, which included juniper bushes and lava rock outside fronts of homes. In 2010, the Board of Directors decided to give the community a brand-new look, launching the multi-year Landscape Improvement Program (LIP).
    One of the first areas targeted was the landscaping surrounding the pool. Old junipers were removed and new plants were added in 2010 (below):

   If you walk by that area today (photo below), you'll notice considerable growth and lots of plant beauty surrounding the pool.

  After the LIP was approved, about 50 front planting beds (owned in front of each home by the HOA) were changed annually. It took 6 years to complete the initial do-over because of second-stage drought alert in 2013. 

   Today, with the majority of the work done, Cherry Creek 3 strives to be the model of water efficiency with native and xeric plants - many recommended by Plant Select - that provide beauty throughout the growing season and help our pollinators survive.

   Cherry Creek 3's transformation has been dramatic for long-time owners. Gone are the dying old poodle-sheared junipers and outdated lava rock outside home fronts. Although smaller landscaping improvements continue annually, anyone who lived here a decade ago will notice the vibrant, colorful landscape changes as the various plants bloom from early spring through late fall. These changes have positively impacted the Association's water bills and have made a positive environmental change for pollinators who visit the neighborhood. The design scheme is called "Wildscaping" because it gives the feel of plants being allowed to thrive naturally, as opposed to looking like a "paint by number" design. Wildscaping has become popular throughout the western U.S. in recent years - partly due to water concern and also to show concern for pollinators.
The addition of a Community Garden in 2012 also has been a positive change for neighbors, who toil in the soil throughout the spring, summer and fall to raise a bounty of edibles.
    This page spotlights some of the changes in recent years here:

Landscape Improvement Program (LIP) spotlighted in statewide magazine:

(Cherry Creek 3 was featured in the Colorado WaterWise magazine and named the organization's 2015 Conservation Award winner.)

More about our Award-Winning, wildscaping "Landscape Improvement Program" (LIP)

* Cherry Creek 3 is regularly visited by residents and Board Members from other HOAs from across the Front Range. These visitors are often facing tough decisions on the future of their landscapes because of soaring water bills in their communities.
* In 2014, 
Cherry Creek 3 received a Habitat Hero award from the Audubon Society of the Rockies. We are the first HOA in the state to receive this distinction. (For more information, visit or (in the conservation-resources section). 
 It has also received accolades by the Colorado WaterWise magazine, been featured on the back cover of the High County Gardens April 2015 catalog and the Summer 2015 edition of Rocky Mountain Gardening, to name a few.
* The LIP was funded in part from a Denver Water conservation program (no longer available) but mostly from Cherry Creek 3's annual budget. However, the investment has more than paid for itself because it significantly reduced the community's collective water and sewage bills.
* In 2018, Cherry Creek 3 received the first HOA Partner award, given by Plant Select.

* A 2016 nationwide documentary, Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home, includes a segment on the Cherry Creek 3 LIP. (For more information on the national documentary, please visit: In 2017, the HOA was featured in a Colorado documentary about water conservation. (Please visit the water-conservation page for a link to watch this film online for free!)

*        Most of the plants installed have been low-water, xeric and native species recommended by Plant Select, a cooperative organization comprised of Colorado State University and Denver Botanic Gardens in cooperation with several growers' associations. To learn more about their efforts to bring new plants to our arrid climate, see videos at:

  *  In approving the LIP, the Board gave three goals for the effort:
    * Improve the beauty and look of Cherry Creek 3
    * Increase property values
    * Conserve water
   These plants thrive in the ever-changing weather of the Front Range and are drought tolerant. When first planted, residents can help by keeping children and pets away from the news plants. Dogs should not be allowed to urinate on new plants, either.  Patience is another necessity since it takes several years for the new plants to adjust to their new soil and environments. Once that occurs (each plant is different), it begins to grow. Plants were also selected to avoid becoming giant-sized. 
  * Unlike traditional landscapes, Cherry Creek 3 utilized a "Wildscaping" plan to showcase plants in a more natural setting. This landscaping style is vastly different from the look of, for example, an English estate. Nationally, the establishment of pollinator-friendly landscapes is a hot topic. Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology, has worked with the Nature Conservancy to create a Habitat Network online. In its July 2018 newsletter, HOAs and their participation in preserving nature in urban areas, was a featured topic. Cherry Creek 3 was among the HOAs listed for its efforts.
   Denver Water estimates as much as 55% of all water purchased by their typical residential customer annually is used in outdoor irrigation (54%) and toilets (13%). The Association partnered with Denver Water and CC3 residents in 2008, replacing more than 425 old toilets with water-efficient models.
   As part of an outdoor irrigation agreement between Third Cherry Creek and Denver Water from 2010-15, the Association replaced more than 1,500 old sprinklers with more efficient MP Rotar Head models and made changes to some of the neighborhood's irrigation clocks. In return, Denver Water promised rebates based on water savings during the summer watering season.
    So far, the results have been great. The HOA used nearly 36 million gallons of water in 2008 but now uses much less - approximately 20-22 million gallons a year. Most of the savings have been realized by controlling outdoor water costs. Denver Water issued more than $40,000 in rewards for its irrigation efficiency (2010-15). The rewards, in addition to HOA budget funding, helped pay for the LIP progress annually.
 The HOA strongly monitors water consumption each month and constantly urges residents to conserve water because water and sewage costs are among the Association's highest annual expenses. (The monthly HOA maintenance fee would be significantly higher if water-conservation practices didn't occur.) In fact, the Association offers owners incentives for replacing water devices in their homes with more efficient ones. (See water-conservation page for additional details).

Dog Tuff Grass:
In summer 2015, the HOA began experimenting with African Dog Tuff grass after receiving some of the grass from Plant Select and Colorado State University. The Dog Tuff grass is planted next to fences by 9086 and 9146 E. Nassau. Some people claim this new species could be a trend-setter for yards throughout the state in the future. The reason? Dog Tuff grass uses little water, needs mowed less frequently, Is soft on bare feet and doesn't yellow when dogs urinate on it (hence the term, "dog tuff.") Dog Tuff grass was named as an official Plant Select recommendation for 2016. The web site for this new grass is at

Award-winner horticulturalist Kelly Gummons of Denver cultivated the Dog Tuff grass. See his video on this new turf grass on the Plant Select web site (click here):

Here is what the Dog Tuff Grass looked like when planted in 2015, and how it looks today (below photo):

Let's not forget the trees! In recent years, the HOA had several old trees removed, mostly because they were encroaching on home roofs, sustaining damage from snow and disease, and other reasons related to aging. However, since 2016, Cherry Creek 3 has planted about 30 new trees (many more than the number of trees removed) to help improve the curb appeal of the property and to provide homes to birds.

When will landscaping be done in Cherry Creek 3? The short answer: Never! The Association continually looks at ways to fill bare spots, replace unhealthy or dead plants and continue to improve the over all look of the community. Watch for more tweaks and improvements in 2018 and beyond. That will include repairing landscape where water and sewer line work was conducted during the late fall and winter months.

A glance at the past and present:

* The north side of 9115 E. Oxford drive was another patch of turf grass that almost no one walked or played upon. It was decided to change this spot into a water-friendly garden. Here's the start of the work in 2014 and how it looks in 2018:

* The landscaping was unsightly along the building from 9001-9009 E. Oxford Drive. In 2014, a crew of dedicated resident volunteers installed new plants. (This footage is included in the documentary "Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home"). This photo shows the "before" view, followed by how the place looks in 2018.

* Around 2012, there were sewer leaks and a water line problem on a hillside along E. Nassau Ave., The site originally was covered with turf grass. When the underground work was concluded, it was decided to create a conservancy area that would add more natural beauty to the area and reduce the need for weekly mowing, frequent maintenance and, of course, watering costs three times a week.
Here is what the effort looked like at the beginning and how it looks in 2018:

 Below are some photos of landscaping improvements and the plants that have helped give Cherry Creek 3 an improved look via wildscaping. More will be posted soon.


Cherry Creek 3's popular Community Garden, est. 2012

If you are interested in having a plot in the Community Garden: 
Please e-mail prior to the planting season: Spaces are limited. 

Cherry Creek 3's Community Garden has grown into a popular place among residents. More than 40 plots of vegetables are farmed by every type of residents- from novices to experienced gardeners.

Once a section of blue grass that was watered, cut weekly and maintained but rarely used, the Community Garden is now a hub for the community. It also attracts a lot of visitors, who come an sit on the bench outside the garden and watch the progress throughout each spring and summer.

The Community Garden has been praised by people from both inside and outside the community because of the efforts of volunteers who make the garden work successfully. It has been mentioned in such places as "Peggy's Pages," (our former local councilperson's monthly newsletter), as well as Colorado WaterWise Magazine and other media. Volunteer gardeners help weed and keep the garden clean in addition to watering and caring for their crops, which range from peas to lettuce, tomatoes and much more. Some of the gardeners even share their produce with their neighbors who aren't involved in the garden.. There are more than 120 community gardens, operated by Denver Urban Gardens, in the city. However, Cherry Creek 3's self-operating Community Garden is a rarity among HOAs in the metro area. Incidentally, hand-watered plots use less water than if the ground had been unchanged and sprinklers were still in use.

NOTE TO PARENTS: The garden is off-limits to children not accompanied by a parent-gardener. Children who trespass and/or play in the garden or with the gardening equipment may be cited and potentially fined. The reason is because the Community Gardeners have invested thousands of dollars on plants, soil, etc. and do not want their plants stepped on or produce stolen. We want children to participate with an adult - but not wander in the garden alone.

   The Community Garden was organized by several residents under the leadership of Jenne Lundgren. That first year, 2012, more than 40 plots for adults and several children worked mini-plots, too. Most of the gardeners enjoyed successful growing efforts and celebrated at the end of the season with a pot-luck dinner in the club house. 
    Gardeners who participate agree to cooperate with basic rules for care and maintenance of their plot as well as respecting the growing area of other gardeners.
    If you would like more information, please send an e-mail to garden coordinator Julie Barnes  (it may take a couple of days - due to busy schedules - to receive a response):

Below are some photos of the first Community Garden in 2012. They show the story of the early days of the Garden and how the spaces grew by late summer. The bottom photo was taken by Phoebe, showing what her plot produced.

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