Gardeners’ wisdom grows, just as plants do, adapting to conditions. As a result, gardening trends rise and fall like temperatures during springtime in the Rockies. The Top 10 current trends in Colorado landscapes reflect pragmatic rethinking of gardens bearing in mind drought and sustainability.
The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC), a group of professional landscape contractors, listed the following trends for 2013:
• Multi-purpose plants. “Plants that do more than just sit pretty in the yard are top picks. The new plants of choice save water, create shade, provide food, are good companions with other plants for their mutual benefit or they attract wildlife. Bottom line: multipurpose plants add more value to the landscape.”
• Xeriscape renaissance. More consumers want yards that are designed, installed and maintained according to the 7 Principles of Xeriscape. They know that Xeriscape is not a set of plants or a garden style, but an environmental system that saves water over time.
• It’s cool to be square. “Veggie gardeners are moving away from planting seeds in the traditional neat, long rows. Instead, they are grouping seeds and starter plants in squares. Keeping the plants closer together requires less water, slows evaporation and helps hold moisture in the soil longer.”
• Preserve & repurpose. Whether restoring historical sites to their formal glory or freshening up tired landscapes, owners care about preserving their mature plants and repurposing bricks, flagstone and other landscape materials already on their property. In the process, they uphold the original character of the place, save valuable plants and cut costs as well as waste.
• “Save the bees. “Worldwide concern about threats to the bee population is now a back-yard priority. More homeowners are asking landscape designers to create plant havens for bees, birds and beneficial insects.”
• “Drip is hip!” “When it comes to watering everything but the lawn, drip irrigation is the go-to water saver for annuals, edibles, perennials, shrubs and trees. Popping out the old pop-up sprinklers and spray heads and replacing them with drip irrigation can cut up to 75% of the water formerly used to maintain those areas.”
• Wipe out weeds. “In times of drought, every drop of water counts. More than ever, weeds are the landscape’s persona non grata that will compete for the water other plants need. This is the year to pull, zap and eradicate weeds.”
• Brown lawn blues. In the heat of the summer, we may see faded and brown lawns due to having less water. “Browning out” is a coping strategy for traditional bluegrass lawns under stress. They deal with the heat and less water by shutting down. Brown grass says the lawn has decided to go dormant until cooler temps return. Water when you can and know that brown really isn’t so bad. Brown grass is smart grass.
• Maximize microclimates. “The south side of the house is typically warm and the north side is typically cool and shaded. The right plant in the right place saves both water and maintenance and produces plants that thrive because they love where they live.”
• Mother Nature’s A/C. “Trees are the natural canopies that shade our homes, reduce energy costs, create fresh air and add curb appeal. The biggest financial investment in most landscapes, they provide many returns that keep our cities clean and cool. Reward their kindness by giving them adequate water and regular care that staves off insects and disease. That’s the best way to hug a tree!”
Keep these tips in mind as you tend your garden this growing season and beyond.
••• “Cultivate your corner of the world.
You grow your garden; your garden grows you.” •••
• Colleen Smith’s gift book “Laid-Back Skier” makes a sweet Easter gift! This whimsical, inspirational book includes lots of ski bunnies and encouragement for life’s ups and downs. Watch “Laid-Back Skier’s” brief YouTube video here.
• Colleen Smith’s first novel, “Glass Halo”—a finalist for the 2010 Santa Fe Literary Prize — is available in hardcover or e—book.
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