UCCS Sustainability House receives Colorado Garden Foundation Grant

Mauricio Soriano, a senior biology student graduating in December, stands in front of the Sustainability Demonstration House.

Rugged and otherwise uneven terrain covered the front yard of UCCS Sustainability House, but that area is being transformed thanks to a gift from the Colorado Garden Foundation. 

The yard will soon feature native and low-water plants, a habitat for local wildlife and a self-guided educational tour. With a renovated yard, students, faculty, staff and the community can learn how to integrate their home landscapes into the existing Pinyon-Juniper Woodland to Semi-desert Shrubland ecosystems of Colorado Springs through aesthetically pleasing and functional ideas.   

“We are very grateful to the Colorado Garden Foundation for supporting us through this grant,” said Kimberly Reeves, interim director of sustainability. “The grant has provided opportunities for UCCS students to learn about low-water plants, to supporting birds through landscaping and explore best practices in irrigation.” 

Mauricio Soriano, a senior biology student at UCCS, is one of four students managing research and implementing the project.

“I learned about other aspects of landscaping like irrigation and how selecting the right plants can transform the landscape to create ecosystems,” said Soriano. “I strongly believe that this project has enhanced my involvement as a student at UCCS and motivated me to continue to be engaged on campus.” 

Luke Petersen, a 2020 geography and environmental studies graduate, stands in the front yard of the Sustainability Demonstration House from the front porch.

Reviving the outdoor space to engage the UCCS and Colorado Springs community has been a goal for the Sustainability Demonstration House, and additional in-kind support from the UCCS Green Action Fund, Colorado Springs Utilities, Harding Nursery and Weisburg Landscape, is helping to bring the otherwise featureless front yard to life. 

Reeves hopes visitors to the House will take advantage of the self-guided yard tour to learn more about the student projects and be inspired to create sustainable landscaping practices within their own communities. 

About the Foundation: 

The Colorado Garden Foundation awards grants to organizations and scholarships to individuals throughout Colorado. In the past 61 years, organizations throughout Colorado have received grants totaling more than $10 million from Colorado Garden Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to furthering the horticultural industry.  Each year, money raised from the Colorado Garden & Home Show and the Colorado Fall Home Show supports horticultural and related activities throughout Colorado. The Grant program funds tree and plant material purchases, school landscape improvements, healing and community gardens, and educational and research programs with organizations throughout Colorado, while scholarships fund college students that are studying horticultural science and business, nursery management, turf grass management, landscape design or landscape management.