April is Earth Month and with the start of spring and celebrations of the outdoors all month long, it’s the perfect time for many homeowners to plan their gardens and learn about sustainable landscaping techniques. To help with this, Edgewater Sustainability brought the expertise of Denver Botanic Gardens to their March Sustainability Seminar where community members learned about an addition to the “Right Plant, Right Place” mantra that also encourages the “Right Practice.” Use these tips and techniques to help build low-water landscapes in your garden where plants can thrive in the dry, intense conditions of the Front Range climate.
Right Practice: Soils
When gardening, it’s important to start with the soil. In the unique High Plains Steppe climate of Colorado’s Front Range, low precipitation and humidity creates soils that are low in organic material and nutrients. To help plants thrive in these conditions, the first step is to amend the soil, or add in, inorganic material, such as small 1/4-inch rock or smaller, at a 1:1 ratio with the existing or new soil. This creates more space for water to penetrate the soil and be delivered to plant roots and mimics natural conditions for native and xeric plants. For large landscaping projects, this can be done to all of the soils at once and mulched on top with 1-2 inches of fine mulch or 1/4-inch rock. For small areas, these soil amendments can be done one plant at a time by adding fine 1/4-inch rock to the soil being used to backfill each new plant.
Right Practice: Plant Small
When getting started on your garden, the best part is selecting your plants! While it can be enticing to choose plants that are already large and matured, it’s actually best to select plants that are small. These younger, smaller plants tend to adapt more quickly to their new environment and will actually grow faster than a larger, more established plant would! This season, select perennials that are in quart-sized containers or flats, shrubs that are in one-gallon containers, and the smallest trees available when shopping for your gardens.
Right Plant, Right Place
The last step in garden planning is finding the right plant and putting it in the right place. This step is easy with the many tools available to help gardeners select the right plants for them! Visit www.EdgewaterCO.com/Sustainability to learn about sustainable landscaping resources that can help inspire your next project and select the right plants for you and your garden!
Contact City of Edgewater Sustainability Coordinator Paige Johnson at PJohnson@EdgewaterCO.com.