Planting a flowering garden or maintaining a colorful lawn in the Colorado Front Range can be difficult. Because of the specific soil and irrigation needs, growing crops in Colorado requires more effort than other regions. So we sat down with an expert, Outdoor Nursery Manager Alex Tisthammer at the Fort Collins Nursery, to get an insight into landscaping in Colorado.
If the weather is favorable, you can start planting trees, shrubs and perennials outdoors as early as mid-April, when the plants have hardened or are gradually exposed to wind and temperature fluctuations. Planting for frost-sensitive annuals and garden vegetables can begin at the end of May or in the first week of June. This is when we are likely to be through spring snowstorms and the soil is warm enough for the seeds to germinate and young seedlings to flourish. If you’re nervous about getting your fingers in the ground, start sowing indoors now, and then plant the seedlings outside when weather reports indicate there is no longer a risk of an evening frost.
Tips for vegetable gardens
If you dream of tending a vegetable patch in the garden, the first thing you need to do is to have your soil quality tested. (The CSU expansion office can do this for you.) This test can help you determine if you need to add organic supplements such as compost or pea-sized gravel to your garden beds.
Many front range residential sections have compacted clay soils that are difficult for roots to penetrate. You can solve this problem by opting for a raised bed filled with a mix of soil and pea gravel from a kindergarten, or by adding soil to several inches of your ground floor garden beds. Raised beds are also a great option for those who prefer to garden standing up or to keep pets and young children away from fragile seedlings.
Irrigation in Colorado
To ensure your gardening and landscaping is getting enough moisture, it is best to install a drip system or plan a daily schedule for hand watering. As the plants mature, they become more resilient to our climate and require less daily attention.
Whenever you add a new plant to the garden, check it out daily for the first week. Place your finger at least 2 inches in the ground and see if it feels damp. If not, the plant needs water. Note how often the plant appears to need water, then adjust your watering schedule.
Choose your plants
Once you’ve found the ideal soil, drainage, and irrigation, it’s time to stock up on seed packets or seedlings from a garden center. On the Colorado Front Range, you want to choose vegetables that take fewer days to ripen and harvest.
Tisthammer says vegetables like spinach and lettuce, as well as baby carrots, beets, radishes, baby peppers, and cherry tomatoes are perfect for gardens in Colorado.
Landscaping Tips in Larimer County
If you want to fill decorative pots to flank your front door or update the landscape design around your property to keep year-round interest, choose perennials. They need to be watered regularly for the first season, then mother nature can take over. However, some plants near your home or garage may need extra watering if they are protected from rain. Perennials return to their full beauty after the snow has melted and only need to be pruned and pruned to maintain a coiffed appeal.
Plants for potting
Our planting zone is 5. Keep an eye on the ratings of the plants you choose or seek help from a gardener. If you are planting in containers, you should choose a colder zone rating like 3 to be successful. Then choose larger-than-usual pots filled with warm, insulating soil to keep those roots cozy. Some plants to spot include chickens and chicks, columbines, echinacea, succulents, and evergreens. Do you love onions like daffodils and tulips? They can be planted in pots, but are better suited for garden beds and ground planting.
Native trees and bushes
If you’re in build mode or starting out with a fresh, open garden, consider adding native and locally popular species to your property. They are used to our clay-rich soil with a high pH value. The following trees work well as long as they are watered regularly for the first season and the saplings are covered with a tree cover from November to the end of March to protect them from winter winds.
- Austrian pine
- Cottonwoods (Lanceleaf, Plains, Narrowleaf) – Check HOA and area ordinances as Cottonwoods are sometimes banned.
- Crab apples
- Mountain ash
- Ponderosa pine
- Rocky Mountain Juniper
If you are looking for shrubs to create a hedge, privacy wall, or natural fence around your land, make sure you have excellent drainage over a layer of sand or rock in your soil. Some of the best plants in Larimer County are:
- Apache Plume
- Crandall Clove Currant (yes they are edible!)
- Fernbush (Desert Sweet)
- Leadplant (This is a great substitute for Russian sage)
- Mock Orange (This has a heavenly scent of orange blossom)
- Mountain mahogany (they have decorative decorative seed heads)
- Rabbit brush
- Sumac (large and small)
- Great western sage (Artemesias)
- Wild Rose (The rose hips can be used medicinally)
- Winter fat
Are you fond of cacti, grass and flowers? There are several varieties that thrive on the Front Range. Whether you are designing your gardens yourself or working with a landscaper, add these Colorado-loving plants to your list to consider.
- Mammillaria or nipple cactus (yellow and pink)
- Plains yucca
- Prickly pear
- Big blue stem
- Blue Grama (blonde ambition)
- Berg Muhly (This is related to Undaunted Ruby Muhly)
- Prairie Dropseed Grass
- Bee balm
- Ceiling flower
- Blue flax
- Chocolate Flower (This has a lovely scent)
- Desert four o’clock
- Pasque Flower
- Prairie Smoke Geum
- Purple sun hat
- Rocky Mountain Columbine (This is our state flower!)
- Scarlet Globemallow
Use of Home Ownership for Landscaping
Adding beauty and value to your home can be a smart investment. Whether you are planting a few trees, building raised beds, or lining the path with a variety of perennials, you are sure to improve your outdoor living space.
You can use the equity in your home to purchase landscaping goods and services with a home equity loan or line of credit *. At Elevations, our credit team takes care of you, your story, and finding the best solution to help you achieve your goals. We offer a variety of term options, as well as fixed and floating rates, which can often save you money compared to a credit card or other loan. In addition, there is no registration fee!
Use this calculator to see how much equity you might have in your home.
Are you ready to start renovating the yard? Not only will you enjoy the beauty of your well-kept property, but you will also potentially increase the value of your home and attract buyers’ interest if you plan to sell any soon. Learn more about a home equity loan here or call us at 800.429.7626.
* Loan offers are subject to loan approval and underwriting. Financing available for Colorado real estate only
Additional Resources: Colorado State University Expansion