Tag Archives: Colorado Landscape Designers

How to Design a Drought-Tolerant Landscape

If you live in Colorado, you’re no stranger to drought conditions. These past years have been dry ones and municipalities are becoming more rigid regarding non-essential water use. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to design a drought-tolerant landscape in Colorado that can yield a lush and interesting look with minimal water consumption.

Here are a few tips for designing a sustainable landscape that can weather the dry years, as well as the Rocky Mountains’ extreme temperature variations and soil conditions.

Design by Lifescape Colorado

Evaluate site conditions. Patience is a virtue for landscape designers. Use a season or two to evaluate your site, noting which areas tend to get the most and least water, as well as sun and/or shade. By evaluating your landscape, you can make better choices about which plants should go where. For example, the more moist areas of your yard — around downspouts or at the base of slopes — can be used for plants that require more water. You can save sandier, dryer patches for drought-resistant plants.

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Source: Thomas J. Story via Sunset

Amend your soil where needed. If you aren’t sure how a particular section of soil will react with water, dig a hole at least 12-inches deep and fill it with water. If the water drains immediately, you’ll need to amend it with organic materials, such as compost or leaf mulch. If the water pools and stays put for 30-minutes or more, you’ll need to add sandier soil amendments to increase porosity.

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Source: Norm Plate via Sunset

Replace or reduce your lawn. Lawns are not considered drought tolerant. Consider replacing your lawn, or a good portion of it, with colorful stone and ornamental plants. Ornamental grasses will provide a burst of green, while requiring significantly less water than a lawn.

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Source: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Add color with drought tolerant plants. Our high-desert landscape is bursting with native color. You can achieve the same by planting native, drought-tolerant plants such as:

Once established, these plants can survive on rainfall and snow melt alone.

Would you like professional assistance designing a drought-resistant Colorado landscape plan for your property? Contact us at Lifescape Colorado for more information about our services.

Protect Your Colorado Garden From Drought Conditions

Since much of the western U.S. experiences serious drought conditions, it’s important to remember how to protect our gardens from drought. Here at Lifescape Colorado, we always advocate water-wise landscaping to yield a healthy and vibrant landscape year-round.

These five tips will help you protect your Colorado garden from drought conditions, so you can enjoy your landscaping regardless of the annual rainfall.

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Design by Lifescape Colorado

Use xeriscape techniques. Your first line of defense against drought is to plant things that don’t require much water in the first place. This is often referred to as xeriscaping. Look for native plants, shrubs and trees that have adapted to our climate. These plantings won’t require much water once established and will also attract birds, butterflies and other wildlife to your garden.

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil

Source: http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov via Cornell Extension Cooperative Extension Onondago County

Build healthy soil. Healthy soil retains water by forming sponge-like clumps, which absorb and store water for the roots. A great way to build healthy soil is to start composting. Compost provides consistency, nutrients and the foundation for healthy microbe development, all of which will help your plants through a drought.

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Source: Cornell University

Mulch, mulch, mulch. Plants are susceptible to heat and drought above and below ground. In addition to retaining water, a generous layer of mulch (3 to 4 inches) will also insulate roots, keeping them as cool as possible. We recommend using organic mulch, such as shredded newspaper, grass clippings, bark, wood chips, straw, leaf material, etc.

Design by Lifescape Colorado

Keep a longer lawn. If you have a lawn, keep grass blades at least 3-inches in length. This creates a shadow effect, which slows down evaporation and keeps roots cooler.

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Source: Sura Nualpradid via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Water early in the morning. Set irrigation timers for early morning, so your plants can make the most of the water you provide before it evaporates. If you water by hand, you can enjoy the cooler parts of the day yourself, rather than battling the heat in an effort to water your plants. Avoid watering at night or in the evening, as this tends to encourage disease growth.

Contact Lifescape Colorado for sustainable landscaping maintenance to keep your yard healthy through drought conditions.

Colorful Annuals for Spring Container Gardens

There are so many reasons to incorporate container gardens into your Colorado landscape. Hanging or grounded, these gardens provide seasonal color to walkways, porches and patios. Plus, you can plant slightly off-season, since containers can be moved inside or under cover to avoid damage from late spring frosts or storms.

While containers can be planted with perennials, such as succulent containers, most landscapers use annuals to enjoy vibrant colors in different seasons.

The following are five superstar annuals for your spring container and basket gardens.

Source: Proven Winners via Houzz

Superbells Lemon Slice (Calibrachoa hybrid). Ready for some sunshine in your landscape? Superbells Lemon Slice look similar to petunias, but are actually Calibrachoa hybrids. They’re unique, bright and decidedly cheerful. They prefer full sun and require moderate water.

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Source: Log House Plants

Superbells Dreamsicle (Calibrachoa hybrid). Here’s another fun Calibrachoa hybrid for you in practically edible shades of pink, orange, yellow and purple. They’re colorful and interesting enough to be the sole star of a container or two.

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Source: Dave’s Garden

Chinese Spinach, Joseph’s Coat (Amaranthus tricolor). There are multiple reasons to use this hardy annual in your baskets or containers. The first is their unique, tri-color foliage that boasts color nearly year-round. The second is that its blooming period stretches from summer through fall. Thirdly, it can handle everything but soggy soil, making it a versatile addition with other plants.

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Source: H ELITE

Jewel of Africa (Tropaeolum majus). If you’re a gardener who appreciates the finished product more than the process, you can save some time by planting Jewel of Africas in a basket or container located where the plant can climb (it can grow up to 8-feet). It blooms in a variety of shades, including salmon, peach, apricot, scarlet and dark cream.

Source: Le jardinet via Houzz

Bonfire Begonia (Begonia boliviensis hybrid). What’s not to love about the Bonfire Begonia? It’s a stunner when trailing out of baskets, hates anything more than average watering, loves full sun and will draw humming birds like crazy from summer until our first fall frost.

Don’t forget that Lifescape Colorado offers landscape maintenance services, so you can enjoy healthy and colorful Colorado container gardens for most of our four seasons.

Prairie Winecups

Native perennials hold a position of honor in many Colorado landscapes, and at Lifescape Colorado, we encourage you to add these hardy plants for their beauty and drought tolerance. Callirhoe involucrata, commonly known as Prairie Winecups is one of our favorites. Here’s what you should know about this attractive flower.

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Source: Heisch, Randy via Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Prairie Winecups boasts dark green stems covered by rounded hairy leaves, which provide a striking backdrop for the cup-like magenta flowers. These blooms generously dazzle the landscape from early spring and throughout the summer.

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Source: Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia via Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

As this herbaceous plant typically reaches heights of only 6 to 12 inches and spreads out along the soil, it works beautifully as a perennial groundcover. You can expect the stems of each plant to amble out approximately three feet horizontally.

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Source: Flaigg, Norman G. via Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

In the wild, Prairie Winecups are often found growing in open, rocky areas and in the sunniest spots surrounding quiet glades. You’re less likely to spot them in full shade, as they prefer a lot of sunlight and warmth. While not particular about soil type, this perennial does prefer the soil’s pH to be slightly acidic.

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Source: Wasowski, Sally and Andy via Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The same growing preferences naturally apply when introducing these to a cultivated landscape. Prairie Winecups feel at home anywhere with exceptional drainage and sunlight, whether this is out in the center of the garden or as edging near sunny walkways. Like many native plants in Colorado, this perennial can handle hot, dry periods making it appropriate for use in xeriscaping. Once established, this plant is very low-maintenance, requiring neither deadheading of blossoms nor pruning – unless you wish to do so for aesthetic purposes.

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Source: Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia via Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Winecups may be planted from seed or cuttings. If you search garden centers for this flower, other names you may encounter are Buffalo Rose and Purple Poppy Mallow.

At Lifescape Colorado, we bring landscapes to life. For more information about Prairie Winecups, other recommended plants and our landscape and garden services, please contact Lifescape Colorado today.

A Colorado Gardener’s April Checklist

It seems as if we were just rolling out Colorado Gardening Tips for January last week, and here April is already upon us! The good news for everyone is that our extended lead-up to spring provides extra time for procrastinators to catch up on winter chores and launch right into our spring checklist.

So, without further ado, here is your checklist for April gardens.

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Source: Amy Renea via Houzz

Get your soil in shape. Finally, we get to plant! April is the month when the large majority of the frosts and freezes are behind us, and we can begin to plant with confidence. If you haven’t done so already, make sure to amend your soil so it contains just the right balance of airspace for aeration, hydration retention and microbes. You can hire the professionals at Lifescape Colorado to test your soil and make recommendations for healthy amending. And, of course, don’t forget to mulch!

Source: Jocelyn H. Chilvers via Houzz

Transplanting. Do you have some transplanting to do this season? Perhaps there’s a tree that needs to be relocated or a shrub with too many exposed roots? If so, this is the time to dig them up (take advantage of the moist and softened soil) and relocate them to their future home.

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Source: Jocelyn H. Chilvers via Houzz

Bare root planting. Bare-root planting offers a way to save significant money on established plants, but you have to seize the planting window as it comes. That time is usually around mid- to late-April in Colorado. Examples of bare-root plants include fruit trees, roses, clematis, rhubarb, strawberries and asparagus. Pass up plants that have begun leafing out or have roots that appear dried up or rotten.

Design by Lifescape Colorado

Get your lawn in shape. April is the month to core-aerate your lawn. Removing slugs of grass and dirt keeps roots from getting choked off, allowing them to get the air, water and nutrients they need. Apply an organic fertilizer to give your plants a growth boost. Consider turning to a professional landscape maintenance company to ensure you lawn remains vibrant all season.

Contact Lifescape Colorado for professional spring landscaping assistance.