So, you want to begin a landscaping project in Colorado. How exciting! You are in for the ride of your life with this little home improvement project! Although all of those HGTV home improvement shows make it seem easy, landscaping is more than just picking out a few pretty plants and bushes and implanting them in their new permanent home. Landscaping in Colorado can be a tricky ordeal that takes some consideration and planning.
Colorado has many different climates thrown into one beautiful state. Colorado is made up of mountains, foothills, high plains, and desert lands, all which are affected differently based on what mountains and valleys surround the area. There are 3 important things you should know before you landscaping in Colorado.
3 Important Things You Should Know Before You Landscape in Colorado are:
- Plant Hardiness
- Temperature fluctuation
- Water Conservation
This Colorado Landscape Timeline will help you know exactly what to do for your Colorado landscape each month of the year.
Knowing what plant hardiness zone you are located in will help you determine what type of plants you will be able to add to your landscaping project. Colorado consists of zones 3, 4, 5 and 6. Zone 3 is typically found in mountain towns, zones 4 & 5 are along the Front Range, and zone 6 is along the Southern borders.
Our short growing season paired with our late spring freeze and early fall freeze makes planning a flower garden that blooms all season long a challenge. This Perennial Bloom Guide Calendar for Colorado Springs will help you select flowers that do well in our climate.
What is plant hardiness you may ask? Basically, plant hardiness is used to determine what temperatures certain plants can withstand and how they thrive in those zones. Essentially, the higher the zone number, the less cold the plant can withstand. So, if you are in zone 6, then your plants can withstand temperatures anywhere between -5° and -10°. This information is very important when you are planning your landscaping in Colorado. Some examples of plants that do well in each zone are:
- Serviceberry-Large shrub/small tree
- Blanket flower-Perennial
- Butterfly Bush-Shrub
Anyone who lives in Colorado knows how temperamental (no pun intended) the weather and temperature can be. Some winter mornings you wake up to 3 inches of snow, which then promptly melts by noon and it is sunny and 65°. The weatherman is typically wrong on any given day and everyone usually layers their clothing just in case it snows/rains/ is blistering hot all in one day.
Temperature fluctuation can affect your plants’ hardiness, so you wouldn’t want to landscape and plant things too early in the season and have a frost come through and wipe out all of your hard work. Along the Front Range, the last day of frost averages mid to late May. To see what the last day of frost is for your zone check out this website: http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-colorado-last-frost-date-map.php
When landscaping, another important thing to consider is water conservation. The state of Colorado typically receives 8-15 inches of moisture per year and without that moisture from the sky, you will be watering your plants A LOT. Colorado typically has dry summers and sometimes, if it is dry enough, the state will put in place water restrictions. These restrictions happen in 4 stages:
- Watch: STAGE I SHORTAGE
- Warning: STAGE II SHORTAGE
- Severe: STAGE III SHORTAGE
- Critical: STAGE IV SHORTAGE
Water restrictions determine how much and how often you can water your lawn and garden. These water restrictions are a very good reason to consider water conservation in your landscaping plans. Water smart gardening is called “xeriscaping” which is defined as a landscape in a style that requires little irrigation. Considerable water savings can be obtained by following the seven principles of xeriscaping which are:
- Plan and design for water conservation, beauty, and utility
- Improve the soil
- Limit turf to practical sizes or select alternatives to turf
- Irrigate efficiently
- Select appropriate plants and group according to similar water needs
- Mulch to reduce evaporation
- Maintain according to good horticulture practices
Colorado Springs Utilities offers free water-wise landscape classes. They have 12 different types of classes that are offered in order for you to make the most out of your yard while also conserving water. A class schedule, as well as a description for each course offered, can be found at https://www.csu.org/Pages/classes-events.aspx .
All of this is a lot to consider when landscaping in Colorado, but the rewards outweigh the temporary labor involved. If all of this seems a little overwhelming to you, please consider Timberline Landscaping for all your commercial and residential landscaping needs! Contact us here.