Soil Amendment Program

Before a newly constructed premise may be landscaped, property owners must amend their soil with compost so the soil more efficiently retains water. This rule applies to all new residential, commercial, government and industrial properties within Denver Water’s service area.

  • Importance of Soil Amendment

    Soil amendment is required prior to landscaping the premise. Amending your soil with compost has multiple benefits. Organic matter (compost) particles can hold moisture in the soil for extended periods, allowing water to be available to plants over a longer period of time. Compost can provide small amounts of the key nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K) and also increases microbial activity, which improves plant root growth. Compost also opens clay soils, allowing better drainage, and closes sandy soils, preventing water from leaching away too quickly.

    Denver Water operating rules that apply to soil amendment and limits on use:

    Operating Rule 14.02.4 — Soil Amendment for Irrigation of Turf at Newly Licensed Premises. Proof of proper soil preparation is required before installation of plant material. Penalties may apply if soil amendment is not completed prior to the installation of plant material. Proper soil amendment is the equivalent of adding approved compost at a rate of four cubic yards per 1,000 square feet of permeable area, incorporated (roto tilled) to a depth of six inches.

    Operating Rule 3.03 b — Limits on Use. Unmetered use of water for construction is permitted only until the water service is activated, as required in Rule 2.02.1, or the Water Supply License is cancelled under Rule 2.12, whichever occurs first. Landscape irrigation and occupancy of the premises prior to the installation of a meter are prohibited and shall constitute unauthorized use of water.

    Properties meeting any of the following conditions are not required to amend the soil prior to landscaping:

    • Water tap for indoor use only.
    • Property with less than 300 square feet of amendable area. 
    • Outdoor use limited to planter boxes. 
    • Outdoor use with nonpermeable areas only.

    The watering of landscape and/or occupancy of the premises prior to the installation of a meter are prohibited and shall constitute unauthorized use of water.

  • To Pass Soil Amendment Approval

    Prior to the installation of any plant material, including sod, apply a minimum of 4 cubic yards of soil amendment product per 1,000 square feet of permeable area.

    This soil amendment product must be incorporated or rototilled to a depth of 4-6 inches. The site must be raked smooth and finish grades must be established. Rocks and debris over 1-inch diameter that may interfere with planting and maintenance operations must be removed.

    • Native grass-seeded areas may incorporate amendment at a rate of 2 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet. Seed mixes are required for submittal along with a map outlining the area.
    • Tilled soil amendment product is required for all permeable area of the property, including tree lawn and right-of-way adjacent to the property for which the property owner is responsible for planting and maintaining.
    • Soil amendment is not required within 5 feet from the foundation of the property.
    • Scraped properties will require compost only if a new tap and license is required and the existing landscape has been removed from the property as determined by the inspector.
    • An application rate of 12 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet is required for amended topsoil.
  • To Obtain Soil Amendment Approval

    Provide documentation (invoice or load ticket) of soil amendment product, and a plot survey map with square footage of the amended area for inspection purposes. The load ticket must include the type of soil amendment product, and the address(es) it will be applied to.

    Approval will be arranged once documentation has been received and product approved. Documentation may be:

    You will be notified of soil amendment approval status by phone or email. All properties are subject to spot inspections.

    If the property is served by a master meter distributor, the distributor’s representative will be notified of the soil amendment approval via email within the next business day.

  • Winter Extension

    When weather and ground conditions prevent completion of the soil amendment requirement, Denver Water may extend the completion date to no later than June 1. The customer may request a winter extension by calling Denver Water’s Customer Care department at 303-893-2444 or emailing customercare@denverwater.org to request the extension. The soil amendment must be approved prior to landscaping the premise in the spring.

    Operating Rule 14.02.4 — Soil Amendment for Irrigation of Turf at Newly Licensed Premises. Proof of proper soil preparation is required before installation of plant material. Penalties may apply if soil amendment is not completed prior to the installation of plant material. Proper soil amendment is the equivalent of adding approved compost at a rate of 4 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet of permeable area, incorporated (roto tilled) to a depth of 6 inches.

  • Phased Projects

    Large projects that have landscape installed in segments over the life of the project may qualify for phased approvals. A complete site plan identifying the different phased areas must be submitted for review and approval prior to initial meter set.

For more information:

Soil amendment: 303-893-2444 or customercare@denverwater.org
Tap issues: 303-628-6100
Meter set/inspection: 303-628-6145