Autumn is your lawn’s favorite time of year! It’s the best time to treat your turf to a little extra maintenance, that will ensure a thick, green, healthy lawn next spring!
Remove the Leaves “Leave the leaves” may be an excellent idea for your perennial beds and the ecosystem in general, but not for your lawn! Leaves block light and trap moisture. Those soggy mats of leaves on your turf can lead to disease problems. So as leaves fall, rake them from lawns and add them to the compost bin or shred them and dig directly into your vegetable garden.
Aerate to Loosen the Soil Regular aeration prevents soil from becoming compacted and covered with a layer of thatch. Thatch blocks water, oxygen, and nutrients from reaching the soil. It’s a good idea to aerate your lawn BEFORE FERTILIZING, so the fertilizer will be able to reach the roots.
Apply Winter Fertilizer Green Thumb Winterizer should be applied in mid October. This slow-release fertilizer will feed continuously for the next sixteen weeks, giving grass roots plant sugars to protect roots from freezing over the winter, and enough energy to bounce back in the spring.
Get Rid of the Weeds In the autumn, weeds prepare for winter by sending energy and nutrients into their roots. It’s a good time to apply Weed Free Zone to kill these invasive weeds, roots and all. Make sure to remove weeds before they go to seed for the season, or you’ll see them again in the spring!
Grub Control No, the Japanese Beetles haven’t gone away — they’ve burrowed into your turf for the winter! Early Autumn is the prime time to apply a grub control before the weather turns colder and they burrow deeper. GrubGONE! is a bio-insecticide that is effective at controlling turf grubs without side effects of off-target damage to beneficial insects.
Continue Watering Continue to water as long as the temperatures remain above freezing, and always be sure to give your lawn a good watering before you drain your sprinkler systems for the year. While it’s true there is less evaporation at this time of year, natural moisture may not be enough to keep the grass roots hydrated and healthy going into the winter. Make sure your lawn continues to receive at least an inch of water a week.
Keep mowing Grass will continue to grow up until the first hard frost. If you put the mower away too soon and allow the grass to become too long, it will mat, which can make it susceptible to fungi like snow mold. In the autumn, aim to maintain an ideal height of 2 ½”-3.” This is long enough to protect the root system over the winter, but not long enough to encourage disease. Regular mowing is also an easy way to chop up those fallen leaves for a natural, soil-enhancing mulch.
Reseed and Repair The cooler temperatures of autumn make it an ideal time to thicken up existing turf. The soil is still warm, moisture doesn’t evaporate as quickly, nights are cooler, and the sun isn’t as hot during the day. This allows grass to grow more rapidly and gives it a chance to establish before cold weather arrives.
“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden.”
~ Ruth Stout ~
We all look forward to the spring season with delight each year. The promise of warmer weather, more daylight, and all of those beautiful spring flowers is a welcome reward after a long winter of grey days, icy air, and shoveling snow. Soon trees and shrubs will be budding, bulbs and perennials will begin emerging from the ground, and our gardens will slowly come back to life once again. Though it’s still too early to plant, there’s plenty to do in the garden. Grab your garden tools, and let’s get started!
CARE OF GARDEN TOOLS — Speaking of garden tools, early spring is a good time to make sure they’re ready for the upcoming season. Check your gardening supplies so that you’ll have what you need in the spring. Gives your garden gloves a good wash and dry, or replace worn ones. Take time to clean all tools thoroughly, removing any residual soil, then inspect for damage or rust. If you do find rust, give those areas a good scrub with steel wool. It will be a long season of work for your garden tools, so it’s a good idea to have them sharpened at the beginning of the season. Echter’s can do that for you! Simply bring in your tools (and lawn mower blades), and for a nominal fee, we’ll sharpen them. If you need to replace or add to your garden tool arsenal, stop by. We’re well stocked with all kinds of garden implements — especially at the beginning of the year.
EARLY SPRING CLEANUP — Winter can be hard on your garden! Take a walk around your garden to assess any winter damage. Remove debris leftover from winter storms, and tidy up the garden beds and boxes. Clean up any dead annual or vegetable plants that remained over the winter. Trim back the tattered foliage or old bloom stalks of perennials to encourage new growth to come in. Cut back ornamental grasses as low as possible, so the old foliage won’t detract from the new growth. Don’t be in too big a hurry to remove mulches though. There are plenty of beneficial pollinators overwinter in gardens by hibernating in dried leaf piles and last-season’s perennial plants, and March can still be one of our snowiest months!
PREPARE YOUR SOIL — Now is a good time to add organic amendments like compost and peat moss. Rototill or spade into your garden soil to a depth of 6 inches.
PLAN YOUR VEGETABLE GARDEN — A great vegetable garden starts with a great plan! Make a list of what you’d like to grow, how much area you have, and how many of each plant you’d like to grow. Check seed packets for plants’ mature sizes, sunlight and watering needs, and the yield of the veggies when planning. Then have fun mapping out and designing your planting areas!
IT’S TIME TO PRUNE — If you didn’t get to it in February, you can still do pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs in March. Some exceptions would be birch, maple, walnut, and elm. These should be pruned in mid-summer. In early spring, you can still easily see the branching structure of trees and shrubs before the leaves start coming in. Begin by removing the three Ds: anything dead, damaged, or diseased. Then move on to any crossed branches (branches that rub against another), water sprouts (branches that grow straight up from the branch), and suckers (branches that spring up from the base of the tree or shrub). Generally speaking, remove young branches that are growing inwards towards the center of the tree as opposed to outwards. Use a pole pruner to reach branches up to about 15 ft. off the ground. Pruning paints and wound dressings are not recommended on the pruning cuts. If you missed it, here’s a deeper dive into late-winter pruning.
GET STARTED ON SOME EARLY LAWN CARE — As in other areas of the garden, begin by checking for any problems that may have developed. Once the snow has melted off your lawn, check the turf in shaded areas for snow mold, a fungus that is white to pink in color and grows on the surface of the grass blades. If you see evidence of snow mold, lightly rake the affected areas and dispose of the debris. Any remaining mold should dissipate on its own after that.
LAWNS SHOULD BE CORE AERATED once or twice each year. That’s done by poking holes in the ground and pulling out plugs. This reduces soil compaction and helps control thatch in lawns while also helping water and fertilizer move into the root zone. Schedule your lawn for an aeration in March, and prepare by marking your sprinkler heads to avoid having them damaged. Water the lawn the day before aerating, so it will be softer and easier to pull plugs. Then water again after aeration to help the lawn recover. Leaving the plugs on the surface will help break down the thatch that has accumulated.
GET A HEAD START ON WEEDS — You can begin to get ahead of weeds by choosing a lawn fertilizer with a pre-emergent as your first feeding of the year. This will prevent annual weed seeds from germinating, and give your lawn a chance to thicken up and discourage weeds on its own. It’s best to apply these after aerating the lawn. This is important because aerating after a pre-emergent will greatly reduce its effectiveness!
OVERSEEDING — As the weather begins to reliably warm up in March, you can begin overseeding thin areas of lawn. Rake areas to be seeded to expose and loosen the soil, then apply a thin layer of Nature’s Yield Compost . Use a high-quality seed blended for your conditions. Echter’s has many different blends to choose from. A hand spreader will help to apply the seed evenly. After seeding, be sure to keep the surface area moist until the seed is well germinated.
PLANT COLD-HARDY CROPS — While it’s too early to plant tender, warm-season plants, it is time to plant some early cold-hardy crops. Things like onion sets, bare-root strawberries, asparagus roots and seed potatoes can be sowed directly into the vegetable garden in March. Be sure to keep a frost blanket handy for any late-season frosts, just to be on the safe side.
START SEEDS INDOORS — Now is the time to start broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, alyssum, lobelia, pansy, and geranium seeds inside for planting out later in the spring. Start tomatoes and peppers inside now, then they’ll be ready to transfer to the garden beds in late May.
PREPARE BIRDHOUSES FOR THE BUSY SPRING SEASON — Returning birds will be looking for real estate soon! In preparation for the new arrivals, clean out and sterilize last year’s birdhouses, or put up new ones. Make sure any older birdhouses are still firmly mounted as well. It’s a good time to perform bird feeder maintenance too. Clean out all feeders and fill with fresh seed. You may also want to consider creating a pile of nesting materials to make your yard extra inviting for this year’s visitors.
Pruning allows what’s left to grow into something beautiful.
Late winter is an ideal time for pruning deciduous trees and shrubs. There’s no foliage growth yet, so the shape of the tree is easy to see — and so are any problems that need to be corrected through pruning! Pruning doesn’t need to be an overwhelming chore though. If you follow a simple checklist each year, you can keep up with this winter gardening task and keep your trees healthy. Gather your pruning tools, and let’s get started!
The three Ds: Dead, Diseased, Damaged
Begin your pruning by removing any of the three Ds — anything that’s diseased, damaged, or dead. Broken and damaged branches are more than just unsightly. They open the tree up to pests and disease. Prune back to at least 6 inches below the diseased area into healthy wood.
Removing dead branches is an obvious pruning task, but how do you know if a branch is dead or just dormant? Scrape away a small part of the bark, If it’s alive, it will be green underneath. If it’s dead, it will be hard and brown inside. You can also try the “bend test.” Bend the branch gently. A live branch will bend, but a dead branch will snap.
Water Sprouts and Suckers
Next, look for suckers and water sprouts and remove them. Water sprouts are newer branches growing straight upwards through the tree, whereas suckers are new growth springing up around the base of the tree.
Water sprouts are caused by heavy pruning in previous years, or by stress to the tree. To prune them away, cut at the base making sure to preserve the branch collar. The branch collar is a swollen area at the base of the water sprout. Prune to about 1/2″ away from the branch collar.
Crossing & Competing Branches
Look for branches that are not growing out from the center of the tree. These may be branches that, like water sprouts, grow straight upwards through the canopy. Also look for branches that are growing inwards towards the trunk. These branches are called competing branches because they compete for space, sun, and nutrients with healthier branches. Cut these away, so what remains are only healthy branches that are growing outwards from the main trunk.
Crossing branches are branches that grow across another. If left in place, these can rub against another branch causing damage. Removing a crossing branch ensures you won’t have to removed a damaged branch next winter!
The overall shape of the tree should be clearly visible now. Step back and look at the overall structure of the tree. If it still seems a little overcrowded in spots, prune until the shape is more even. You might want to raise the canopy a bit — that is, prune away any branches that are just too low. If there are branches that are in the way each time you mow in the summer, go ahead and remove them.
Renew an Overgrown Shrub
For shrubs that may have become overgrown and leggy through the years, a late-winter pruning can be done to improve shape, vigor, and blooming. Prune away the oldest and weakest canes at or near the ground level. This will improve the overall height & shape and should result in more foliage and better flower quality.
NOTE: It’s crucial to do a little homework before you begin pruning. If you prune spring-blooming shrubs (think lilac, forsythia, etc.) in late winter, you’ll be cutting off this spring’s blooms! Some shrubs (like hydrangea macrophylla) bloom on “old wood,” which means last year’s new canes. If you prune out the old wood on these shrubs, you’ll cut off the canes that would be blooming this year! So, a little judicious research will ensure you’re pruning the right shrub at the right time of year.
That’s it! If you keep up with this pruning checklist each winter, it should never become an overwhelming chore, and your trees and shrubs will be much healthier when springtime arrives.
“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.”
~ Indian Proverb
Why should you consider starting this year’s garden indoors? Why not just wait until the last frost date passes, and plant seeds directly in the garden beds? There are lots of reasons — especially in Colorado — why getting a head start on the season is such a good idea.
Get a Jump on the Growing Season Besides just being a lot of fun, one of the best reasons to start seeds indoors is that here in Colorado, the growing season tends to be rather short — even more so in the mountain communities! Being able to set young plants out (as opposed to sowing seed directly) allows your crops to be a few weeks ahead at the beginning of the season, and that means earlier harvests of those tasty spring and summer veggies!
Grow a Warm-Season Crop in a Short-Season Climate Everyone’s favorite summer vegetables usually have a long growing season. Beans, corn, and tomatoes can require anywhere from 60-100 days from seed to maturity, and those bright October pumpkins require 120 days! If you have to wait for the outdoor soil to reach the optimal temperature for growing, you’ll miss out on valuable growing days. Considering Colorado’s growing season is only an average of 150 days, getting started earlier sure can be an advantage. Start these popular summer crops weeks earlier by seeding indoors, and start enjoying those juicy tomatoes a little sooner!
When it comes to starting perennial flowers from seed, you may be able to get first-year blooms on flowers that usually don’t flower until their second year in the garden. Varieties that benefit from a head start indoors are: Asters, Black-eyed Susans, Coleus, and Lavender.
Grow a Variety That Isn’t Offered as a Starter Plant You might also consider starting from seed if you’d like to try varieties of veggies that your local garden center doesn’t offer as “starts” or young plants in the spring. By growing your own vegetables from seed, you have more varieties available to you. For example, while we grow more than 200 different types of vegetable plants each year here at Echter’s, we can’t offer every variety of every crop. Sometimes there may be something you’d like to grow in your garden that we don’t offer. Seed gardening is a great way to grow those extra-special varieties that may not be commonly available.
Fun for kids If you’ve got little gardeners around the house, the process of planting a dry, dead looking seed into soil, then watching it sprout and grow into a live plant is nothing less than magic! It can also provide a valuable lesson in where our food comes from. One small seed can grow a lot more than a plant. It just might grow a lifelong love of gardening.
A Word of Caution With some crops, it can be beneficial to just wait until after the last spring frost and sow directly into the garden. This tends to be true of root vegetables like radishes and carrots. Root crops are fussy about being transplanted because no matter how careful you are during the transplanting process, there’s bound to be some minor root damage, and that will show up in the final vegetable. Direct sowing produces better results in those plants.
There’s so much satisfaction that comes from starting your garden from seed. You control what’s going into your food crops, you can save money, and you have access to a greater variety of plants. One of the nicest things about seed gardening is having something green and growing during the grey days of winter. Pay us a visit, and be inspired by all the crops and varieties that are available this year!
Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. ~Larry Wilde
Nothing says Christmas like the spicy scent of a fresh-cut Christmas tree — a real tree. Keeping your tree fresh through the holiday season can be tricky though! Here are a few tips from the pros on how to make that forest freshness last.
BRINGING THE TREE HOME When purchasing your fresh Christmas tree, be sure to bring a blanket or tarp to cover the tree if you are tying it to the top of your car. This will protect your tree from drying out on the way home. Be certain your vehicle can safely transport the tree you purchase to your home. Bring rope or bungee cords to secure the load adequately.
GIVE IT A FRESH CUT Begin by cutting 1-2″ off the trunk of your tree, and immediately place it in water. Why? When trees are cut, pitch oozes out and seals the pores. By sawing a bit off the base, you’ll open up the pores, and the tree will be able to absorb water. Then add tree preservative to the water.
WATER, WATER, WATER! The best way to keep your Christmas tree fresh is to keep it hydrated. It’s the single most important thing you can do for your tree. A Christmas tree may “drink” a gallon or more of water each day, so check the reservoir often! Making sure your tree has enough to drink each day will prevent needles from drying, boughs from drooping, and will help to keep the tree fragrant.
Never let the water level go below the tree’s base! A seal of dried sap can form over the cut stump in just four-to-six hours if the water drops below the base of the tree. If the reservoir goes dry — even once — the tree cut will seal and may not take up water again.
LOCATION IS KEY A Christmas tree may look beautiful next to a fireplace, but heat sources will only serve to dry out your tree. Place your tree away from fireplaces, wood stoves, heating vents, and direct sunlight. The lights on the tree produce drying heat as well. Always turn the tree lights off when leaving home or going to sleep for the night.
KEEP IT COOL Lower the temperature in the room with your tree. It’s another way to slow down the drying process. The lower the temperature of the room, the better the tree will do.
WHEN IN DOUBT, DO WHAT THE PROS DO! Professionals use products like Wilt Stop to prolong the freshness of Christmas greenery. It’s a natural, non-toxic product derived from the resin of pine trees. It has the unique ability to form a soft, clear flexible film on plants, and it’s what the pros count on to extend the life of fresh-cut Christmas trees. It’s a great way to prevent moisture from escaping and drying the branches out!
AFTER CHRISTMAS The end of Christmas doesn’t have to be the end of life for your Christmas tree! Fresh-cut trees are useful in the garden in a number of ways.
You can use the pine needles for mulch. Pine needles are full of nutrients that enhance the pH of your soil and can prevent soil compaction in the winter.
Put your leftover Christmas tree outside, and decorate it with strings of popcorn and cranberries to feed the birds. Add pine cones which have been spread with peanut butter and rolled in bird seed. The birds will love you!
Use branches as extra insulation. Cut off the branches of your tree and lay them on your garden bed, the boughs will protect your plants from winter freezes and spring thaws. By laying them on your garden you’re giving your plants an even, steady temperature through the coldest months of the year.
A fresh-cut Christmas tree can be an easy and enjoyable part of your holiday celebrations. With just a little know-how, attention, and maintenance, your tree can provide that forest-fresh scent throughout the holiday season.
It’s just not the holiday season without these bright, festive classic plants! You can’t go wrong with rich red poinsettias, but they’re available in everything from a snowy white to candy pink — even speckled and marbled varieties! They’re easy to care for, and with a few tricks, they’ll last through the holiday season and beyond.
Poinsettias prefer a bright area away from cold drafts, fireplaces, radiators, or heat vents. Keep them from direct sun. Never expose the plant to cold temperatures for more than a few minutes; a chilled or frozen plant will begin to drop leaves very quickly. Never allow the soil of you poinsettias to dry out completely, but be sure they are not constantly wet or sitting in water inside the foil wrap. Water the plant thoroughly only when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Remember to discard excess water from the saucer.
Be careful of locations where the hot afternoon sun may shine directly on the colorful bracts and cause the color to fade. Temperatures ideally should not exceed 70° during the day, or fall below 65° at night. To prolong the bright color of the bracts, temperatures should not exceed 72 degrees Fahrenheit during the day or 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
These statuesque bloomers are a Christmas tradition for many! Their large, colorful blooms bring life to the darkest days of winter. They offer a variety of brilliant festive colors, and are extremely easy to grow.
Amaryllis bulbs will bloom 7-10 weeks after planting. Choose a pot about 2″ wider than the bulb and one that is heavy enough to keep from tipping. Fill the pot part way with potting mix. Set the bulb so that the top 1/3 of the bulb will be above the top of the soil when you fill the pot to 1″ below the top edge of the pot. Give the plant about 4 hours of bright light a day. Plant every 2 weeks for a spectacular color show all winter.
Once the blooms have faded, the plants are not dead! You can rebloom the same bulb the following year. Just cut back the flower stalks to 1-2″ above the bulb, and allow the leaves to continue growing into spring and summer, watering and rotating regularly. Around mid-August, allow the bulb to go dry and allow the foliage to naturally die back. The bulb can then be stored in a cool, dark spot for 8-12 weeks of dormancy. Once the dormancy period is met, the bulb can be repotted in fresh soil, watered, and set in a sunny spot to bring life to another holiday season.
These are wonderful plants for brightening your home during the holidays. The pink, red, white or maroon flowers will continue for weeks. They prefer a cool, dry and bright place. Choose a plant with plenty of unopened buds to get the most flowers this season.
With proper care, cyclamen will bloom indoors for several months and can be kept through the summer to provide another display of blossoms next winter. This plant does best in a cool room and in bright light, but away from direct sunlight. A north or east-facing windowsill is ideal. General Care: Remove faded flowers and old leaves. After the plant has stopped blooming, reduce watering and stop feeding. Place the pot in a cool spot and keep it dry until July. Then repot the cyclamen tuber in fresh compost, burying the tuber to half its depth. Place the pot in a cool, well-lit spot and water to keep the soil moist.
Holiday cactimake a great addition to your holiday décor. Their intensely colored blooms droop gracefully at the end of bright green branches. They’re available in an array of different colors, and can continue to bloom long after the holidays are over.
They prefer cooler rooms. Keep the soil on the dry side in November. Only water when the soil feels dry about an inch below the surface. To ensure flowers for Christmas, keep your plant in a room with bright daylight hours and no light after sunset. Flower buds should set and the plants will be in flower by late December.
To bring fragrance into your home during the holidays don’t forget herbs! Rosemary, lavender and thyme along with many other herbs will add a delightful aroma to the home. Use the wonderful scent of fresh greens and pine trees to add to the traditional holiday atmosphere.
Don’t wait until spring to enjoy fresh flowers. Keep the bloom going, and add color and life to your winter season with these popular indoor plants.
Now that our doors and windows are closed for the winter, houseplants provide a welcome splash of life and color in our indoor landscape.
Fresh, vibrant, and green, those innocent looking houseplants contribute much more than just a touch of color though. They play a significant role in keeping stale, recirculated air clean. Plants create fresh oxygen, filter dangerous toxins out of the air, and add a bit of fresh air to any room they live in. For the most part, houseplants are pretty easy to care for, but the winter season can present some special challenges for them. Here are a few quick tips to make your indoor garden a successful one.
BUMP UP THE AVAILABLE LIGHT Adequate light is one of the most important environmental factors in successfully growing plants indoors. Too little light may make your plant leggy with spindly new growth. Let your plants receive as much light as possible during the darker winter days. As the angle of the sun changes and the days get shorter, you may want to rearrange your plants to ensure they’re getting sufficient light in the winter months.
If you don’t have a sunny windowsill to house your indoor garden, grow lights can be especially useful. The proper lighting can supplement sunlight, or replace it entirely in the winter! Echter’s carries everything from full-spectrum bulbs to fluorescent grow tubes that fit in standard fixtures. Add some digital timers, and getting enough hours of light for your houseplants becomes effortless!
CHOOSE PLANT LOCATIONS CAREFULLY Place your plants well away from winter’s chill. Don’t put them near entry doors where they will be exposed to cold drafts. Make sure the leaves of your plants living in window areas don’t actually touch the window. Minimize exposing plants to temperature extremes by placing them well away from your heating system’s air vents and also away from your fireplace.
DECREASE WATER & FOOD Remember that indoor plants need less water & fertilizer during the short days of winter. Shorter days mean less growth, so you’ll want to water only when your plants require it.
Overwatering is the number one killer of houseplants! Frequent watering forces air from the soil and opens the door for root-killing bacteria and fungus to move in. Surface soil can dry out more quickly during winter months, but that’s not a good indicator that the plant needs water. Push your finger into the soil to determine if it is dry an inch or two below the surface—that’s when it’s time to bring out the watering can. Avoid shocking your plants’ roots by using room-temperature water in the winter. Use fertilizer at half strength every other time you water until about mid-March.
INCREASE THE HUMIDITY Houseplants will benefit from added humidity. Humidifiers are great, but you can also use a simple-to-make pebble tray. Take an oversized saucer, add pebbles, and fill halfway with water. Then place your plant on the pebbles. As the water evaporates, add more, but don’t let the plant sit in water.
KEEP A SHARP EYE OUT FOR PESTS Dry air in our winter-warm homes can create a favorable environment for pests. Keep a close eye on your plants’ leaves for signs of problems. Periodically check your plants with a magnifying glass.
Thoroughly check the undersides of leaves, stems, and branch axils. Look for common plant pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, & fungus gnats. Spotting problems and responding to them early can keep populations from exploding.
Just as winter is a season of rest for the outdoor garden (and the gardener!), consider it an off season for your houseplants, and give them a season of rest too. Give them the essentials, but leave things like repotting and propagation until spring when your plants begin growing actively again. Next spring, after a long winter’s nap, your plants will be ready to get growing again!
In October, when the temperatures finally begin to cool, it’s a welcome sign that soon both gardens and gardeners will be able to settle in for a well-earned winter’s rest.
Those cozy evenings by the fireside will be here before we know it, but this month, there’s still plenty to be done to get the garden ready for its dormant period, and also to prepare for next year’s busy growing season!
BEGIN BY CLEANING UP THE BEDS Start the winterizing process with a good cleanup! A proper cleanup this fall will improve overall plant health for the following year. Begin by removing any weeds. They’re sending their energy into their roots just like all the other plants at this time of year. You’ll want to get them out, so they don’t spread seed or dig deeper roots over the winter.
You’ll also want to clean up dropped fruit under fruit trees. Fruits and vegetables left out all winter will only rot, attract animals, and set seed. Remove all vegetable plants that are finished producing for the season. Dispose of plants which had insects or disease. You don’t want to put those in the compost pile. The same goes for weeds. Pull out all dead plant material. This helps keep your garden healthy through the winter and helps protect against pests.
CUTTING BACK & PRUNING Many perennials and ornamental grasses add seasonal interest to the garden with attractive seed heads and plumes. Choose what you would like to remain intact and tidy up others by cutting tall stems back to the base foliage.
Cutting old and diseased foliage in the fall can help perennials jump right into new growth come spring. However, do not prune early-flowering shrubs such as lilac, forsythia, certain varieties of hydrangea, or rhododendron. These have already set next spring’s flower buds. Pruning now would remove next spring’s blooms! Spring bloomers like these can get a haircut right after they finish flowering next year.
AMEND THE SOIL — Autumn is a great time to amend your soil by working in organic matter. The addition of compost now will improve the soil next spring. Rototilling, or turning the soil over, will reduce insect and disease problems next year. Be sure to do this while the soil is dry.
ADD MULCH — Renewing all mulches in the autumn will yield several benefits. It helps maintain a consistent soil temperature, retains moisture, and prevents exposure of roots — which is a common cause of winter damage. Apply mulch around perennial plants — especially those that have been recently planted — as well as around trees and shrubs.
PREPARE FOR THOSE EARLY FROSTS — Keep an eye on those weather apps for nighttime temps dipping to or below freezing, and keep the frost blankets handy. A little protection for the first frost or two ensures your plants will continue to thrive in the warm autumn days that invariably follow a frost. If you run out of frost blankets, be sure to cover with a similar breathable material. Plastic is not recommended for frost protection because condensation beneath the plastic may lead to ice formation, which can damage the foliage.
TO HARVEST, OR NOT TO HARVEST — THAT IS THE QUESTION!
Though you may be able to extend the season by using floating row covers and frost blankets for the first autumn frost or two, generally it’s time to pull the warm-season veggie plants and put any harvests on the table for dinner. Here is a brief list of what to protect and when to call it a season:
Beans will not tolerate frost. Harvest and put them on the dinner menu.
Corn is frost sensitive and also should be harvested rather than covered.
Harvest all unprotected tomatoes and peppers. Unripened tomatoes can be placed in a paper bag or between sheets of newspaper to continue ripening indoors. Be sure to check on them often throughout their ripening process.
Cucumbers and summer squash should be harvested and thoroughly wiped dry before storing. Thin-skinned cucumbers do not store well and those should be eaten within a few days.
WHAT NOT TO HARVEST … YET Not all crops need to be hurriedly harvested before an autumn frost. Some cool-season vegetables are actually improved by the cold!
– Root crops like carrots and beets can remain in the ground until there’s a danger of the soil freezing. The soil acts as their protection from frost. – Celery and late cabbage can be harvested after you notice the frost has slowed their growth. – Don’t harvest winter squash or pumpkins yet! Wait until their vines are frost-killed and their skins are hard to the thumbnail. – Kale and collards can be left in the garden until long after the first fall frost. Continue to harvest as needed until the foliage finally succumbs to the cold weather. – Potatoes should be harvested after the vines die down, so the potato skin has a chance to mature. This makes them less susceptible to bruises, cuts, and moisture loss during storage. – Lettuces and salad greens can be covered with frost cloth. – Onions should be harvested only after the frost has stopped their growth.
For a deeper dive into methods of storing vegetables for the winter, the Colorado State University Extension provides this handy fact sheet.
TO RAKE, OR NOT TO RAKE? Rake! Although some fallen leaves can be mulched back into the soil with your lawn mower, most turf grasses will not tolerate a thick mat of leaves over the winter. Soggy mats of leaves on turf can lead to disease problems. You can add dry leaves to the compost pile, or shred & dig directly into your vegetable beds to improve the soil over the winter.
Aerate your lawn to loosen compacted soil, and apply Green Thumb Winterizer in mid-October. Your lawn will be nice and green in the spring. For the final mowing of the season, leave your grass at a height of 2½”.
Bindweed, dandelion, and other perennial weeds will be moving food reserves down to their roots now. This is a great time to use Weed Free Zone to kill these invasive weeds, roots and all.
Before you drain your sprinkler system for the year, give your lawn a good watering. Continue to hand water as long as temperatures remain above freezing.
Put a trip to Echter’s on your autumn to-do list! We’ll help you tackle putting your garden to bed. Then you can feel free to settle back and enjoy the season knowing that your garden is well-prepared for a long winter’s nap!
With the summer harvest season in full swing, the last thing you may be thinking about is planting more vegetables. But why give up popping out the back door to harvest fresh veggies just because summer is drawing to a close? Smart gardeners know that late summer is the ideal time to plant another round of crisp, fresh, cool-season veggies to extend the harvest just a little longer.
Late summer is prime time for sowing seeds! The soil is still warm from summer temperatures, so seeds germinate more easily. By the time seedlings are up and growing, the air temperatures will have begun to cool as autumn weather settles in. Warm soil & cool air —you couldn’t ask for better growing conditions!
Autumn gardening offers a few advantages over spring & summer as well. Spring planting problems (like bolting because of heat and pesky garden pests) aren’t an issue in the autumn. Even though frost is a necessary consideration, some vegetables are even sweeter after a light frost. So if you’re thinking of squeezing in a little more gardening before the season truly ends, grab your favorite cool-season veggie seeds and a calendar, and get sowing!
Successfully extending the vegetable season depends on a little careful planning. Begin by learning the average date of the first autumn frost in your area. Once you know this, consult the seed packet to find the days to maturity for each particular crop. For the peas in the seed packet to the left, it will be 62-75 days from sowing seed to mature peas. Armed with this information, count backwards on the calendar to find the date you should sow the seed. Simple!
TIP: You may want to pad your planting estimates with an extra couple of weeks. As the days grow shorter, there will be less sunlight for growing, and daytime temperatures will also be cooler. What may have grown quickly in the warming soil and lengthening days of spring, may take just a little longer in the autumn.
As you remove fading summer vegetable crops from your garden, it’s easy to plug in a frost-tolerant, cool-season crop in its place. Begin by adding a soil amendment to replenish essential micro-organisms, provide nutrients, and improve the overall condition of the soil. It takes healthy soil to grow healthy plants!
Lastly, be prepared for those early autumn frosts! Though there are a number of frost-tolerant crops that will laugh at a light frost, sometimes Mother Nature does something unexpected! It’s wise to be ready to give your plants an extra bit of help if necessary. Make sure to keep frost cloths & blankets, fleece tunnels & jackets, etc. at hand and ready to go on short notice. Keep a close eye on weather forecasts and forecasted overnight low temps. Protect your plants, and they’ll be able to keep right on growing in the Indian Summer that inevitably follows a first frost event.
Now … what to plant and when? With an average frost date of mid-October for our Zone 5 Colorado gardens, try planting these popular cool-weather loving crops in late August to early September. They are reliable favorites.
Go ahead and enjoy another round of leafy greens like spinach, chard, watercress, kale, and lettuces. Peas are another favorite for the autumn garden.
Root vegetables like carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes are popular choices that also do well in cool-season Colorado gardens.
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kohlrabi will enjoy sunny days and cool nights in the autumn garden. They can all tolerate a light frost.
Autumn gardening can be rewarding and fun as long as you’re knowledgeable and prepared. Why not get just one more vegetable harvest in before winter arrives? Those late-season veggies will taste mighty good in soups & stews come January!
Knowing when and how to harvest is an especially important part of growing your own food. Why? Because it affects the quality, flavor, and nutritional value of your homegrown produce! But how do you know when something is fully ripe, and what’s the best way to harvest? Scroll through, and check out our tips on how to harvest popular crops in Colorado.
Let’s start with the jewels of the garden — tomatoes! For the best taste and the highest nutritional value, you’ll want to leave your tomatoes on the vine until they’re fully colored, then gently twist and pull from the vine. The trick is in what “fully colored” looks like. Gone are the days when you could wait for a tomato to be a rich, vibrant red before confidently plucking it from the vine.
Nowadays tomato varieties comprise a rainbow of colors — yellows, oranges, greens, stripes, and even sprinkles! It’s particularly important to know what your ripe tomato should look like. If in doubt, a ripe tomato will give slightly to the touch. It it’s not ripe, it will still feel quite hard. Another tell-tale sign is how resistant the tomato is to being picked. If it hangs onto the vine for dear life when you try to pluck it, it’s not ready yet! If you’re growing heirloom varieties, you should pick them just shy of full color because they generally ripen before their color deepens.
When to Harvest Root Vegetables?
Beets … Most beet varieties are ready to pull about two months from planting. For baby beets, you’ll want to harvest earlier, when the roots are 1½” across. Letting beets stay in the ground too long will yield tough, woody roots!
Carrots … Carrots may be harvest young (at about ½” diameter) for baby roots, or allowed to grow to full size for storage. Not sure if they’re ready to harvest? Pull a few carrots for a quick taste test. If they’re crisp and sweet, they ready to eat. (TIP: loosen the surrounding soil before attempting to pull up a carrot. Carrots are notorious for breaking off when they’re pulled.)
Potatoes … After the potato plants have flowered, you may dig some of the potatoes to enjoy as “new” or “baby” potatoes. If you want to harvest full-sized potatoes, allow the tops to die back in the autumn, then dig up the tubers.
Check These Heavy Producers Daily!
Cucumbers … Harvest when they’re firm and smooth. Check on them often! If they’re left on the vine & become too large, they can become bitter and pithy. Use your garden shears or pruners to neatly clip these from the vine. This will prevent possible damage to the vine caused by twisting or pulling. Cut the stem approximately ¼” above the cucumber.
Green Beans … Pick them when the pod has filled out, but before you can see the seeds bulging. Simply grasp the bean pod firmly up near the top where it connects to the vine, then use your thumb to gently pinch it loose.
Zucchini … There are two things to remember about harvesting zucchini — pick young and pick often! These can quickly become too large. Zucchini is at its most tender and flavorful when it’s about 5″-7″ long and you can easily poke your fingernail through the skin. Use a sharp knife (or your pruners) to cut from the vine. (TIP: you can also harvest those delicious yellow flowers! Enjoy them raw in salads.)
Harvest this summer favorite after the silks become brown and dry. The ear should be completely filled out, and the end should be rounded instead of pointed.
Peppers, Peppers, Peppers
Bell Peppers … These grow in a range of colors including green, red, dark purple, yellow, and orange. In general, they’re ready to harvest when they are the full color of the variety planted. You can harvest bell peppers when they’re green. If you allow them to stay on the vine to ripen further, green peppers may turn red, then orange, then yellow! Purple varieties will turn from green to a dark purple to nearly black. Bells can be eaten at any stage during this ripening process, however the longer you leave them on the plant, the sweeter they become and the higher the Vitamin C content will be. To harvest, use a sharp knife or scissors to cleanly cut peppers from the plant to ensure the least damage to both pepper and plant.
Chile Peppers … Both mild and hot peppers can be harvested when they reach full size and are fully colored. They can also be harvested as soon as they reach a usable size. Chiles can be eaten at just about any stage of development. Mild peppers commonly get sweeter as they mature, while hot peppers get hotter the longer they’re left on the plant. To harvest: cut peppers from the plant with pruners. Leave a short stub of stem attached to the fruit. Do NOT pull peppers from the plant by hand — this can result in broken branches.
With eggplant, slightly immature & smaller fruits are tastier and will contain less seeds. Eggplants should be firm and shiny when fully ripe. Cut with a knife or pruners rather than trying to pull from the plant.
Winter squash … such as acorn, spaghetti, buttercup, butternut, and Hubbard are ready to harvest when you cannot puncture the skin with your thumbnail and the stems are dry and begin to shrivel. Use pruners to cut cleanly from the vine.
Harvest pumpkins when they’re fully colored and the skin is hard enough to resist a fingernail puncture. They should sound hollow when thumped. Use a sharp knife or pruners to cut the pumpkin from the vine. Leave about 2″ of stem, and handle carefully. Any nicks or bruises will accelerate decay.
After the Harvest Look for signs of trouble, such as yellowing leaves, rotting fruit, or unwanted pests. Be sure to put any plants that have disease or insect infestations into the trash — not the compost pile!
Healthy plant foliage can go into the compost pile after removing any seed heads. Remove any weeds from the vegetable garden, then improve the soil with compost, or plant a cover crop in the bed to overwinter.
Remember to Share the Harvest If you find yourself with an overabundance of anything (we’re lookin’ at you, zucchini!) always remember to share the harvest with friends, family, and neighbors. If their cupboards are full, donations of fresh, homegrown vegetables are welcomed at your local food bank! After all, the summer harvest should be a season of plenty for everyone.
Each summer we get questions from exasperated gardeners asking, “What can I plant that the deer won’t eat?” It’s a complicated subject, since what works for one gardener might not work for another. However, there are a few smart garden strategies that you can try that may make your garden less attractive to deer.
Your first line of defense isalwaysto make smart plant choices. Be aware of plants deer favor, and make sure you’re not stocking your garden with a buffet of their favorites! Armed with a little information, you may be able to plant your solution to the deer problem and discourage them naturally.
Deer tend to like plants that are smooth, tender, and flavorful. Plants such as arborvitae, tulips, hosta, daylilies, and roses are favorites. What they do not like are plants that are highly aromatic, prickly, thorny, fuzzy, or plants that contain a milky sap like milkweed. They also naturally avoid plants that are toxic such as foxglove, daffodils and poppies.
So, what types of plants are deer resistant? Some good shrub choices are: Holly, Barberry, Spirea, Boxwood, and Lilac. For the herb and vegetable garden try: onions, garlic, sage, tarragon, lavender, mint, and rosemary. Deer-resistant flowering plants include: Peony, Marigolds, Forget-me-not, Bee Balm, and Iris. Ornamental grasses in general are not a favorite of deer, but within that category try planting Blue Fescue, Golden Hakone grass, or a Black Mondo grass
As for that elusive deer-proof plant — there is no single plant that is guaranteed to be completely “deer proof!” As Dr. James Klett, Professor of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University states, “Deer — if they’re hungry enough — are going to eat anything. If there is a completely deer-resistant plant out there, I don’t know what it is.”
If you think in terms of which plants deer do and don’t prefer, you can begin to plan your garden with a bit more foresight and strategy. Since deer tend to be skittish about coming in close to a living area & would rather remain near the safety of the forest, try planting your deer-favorite plants (like tulips and roses) close to the house. Also, planting less-preferred plants in a protective ring around those that are more desirable can be an effective strategy.
Try planting confusing combinations of plants. “I was sure there were daylilies in there somewhere”, Bambi complains, “but all I could smell was garlic!”
Another deer-repelling strategy you can try is to “foul the fringes” — that is, line the perimeter of your property with unpalatable plants. Strategically placed hedges or thorny shrubs can serve as a natural way to redirect the deer and discourage lingering to feed on more attractive plants nearer to your home. Clever!
Deer don’t go past anything they can’t see through or over. You can make that work in your favor. Use solid hedges of pungent junipers or form trellises with fragrant morning glories. If deer can’t see what’s inside, they’re less likely to take that leap of faith onto your property.
Try working with their favorite plants combined with their desire to stay near the safety of their forest home. Plant things they DO like well away from your garden. A feast of their favorite flowers (delphinium, phlox, hosta and pansy) may have them nibbling, then heading safely back into the forest. It can be your sacrificial garden. The idea is to leave them thinking, “Why brave the garden close to the house, when the good stuff is planted all the way out here?“
Keep in mind that deer are like people, and what deters one won’t always deter another, but trying several of these strategies can help. With a little careful planning, and a few tricks here and there, it may be possible for your garden to coexist peacefully with these beautiful creatures!
Colorado gardeners are portrayed with a wide range of descriptive terms: enthusiastic, resilient, tenacious, optimistic and persistent come to mind. We learn by experience, and all of us — novice or veteran gardener, have enjoyed success and have also been disappointed with failure. What we all share is our sense of place and region, with all of its gardening advantages and challenges. Our sunny skies and dry climate provide the perfect palette for plants native to the region as well as those from other areas of the world that thrive in similar conditions.
What are Xeric plants? Xeric is a term that applies to plants that grow well with minimal irrigation once they are established. They are eagerly sought by the gardener who is looking for plants that demand less water and adapt to the soils of the region. The xeriscape gardening concept uses seven basic design and planting fundamentals.
Why Choose Native & Xeric Plants for Your Home Landscape? There are plenty of good reasons to fill your garden with water-wise native plants. It makes sense to use plants that are naturally adapted to Colorado’s unique climate, soils, and environment. When they’re correctly sited, native species require less water & fertilizer, and they’re more pest & disease resistant.
By choosing native plants, you’ll be working with nature, instead of trying to work with plants that aren’t suited to our local conditions. Another great reason to choose native plants is to restore habitat and biodiversity in our rapidly-growing urban areas. Gardens with native plants provide food, shelter, and other important resources for our wildlife — including our native pollinators!
Where Can You Find Xerics & Natives? It’s not hard to find xeric or native plants for your garden! Many plants that are native to our region are also xeric. These water-wise plants include favorites such as Blue Flax, Blanket Flower, Penstemon, Apache Plume, Kinnikinnick, Boulder Raspberry, Hackberry, Hawthorn and Serviceberry. The true natives — such as the Desert Four O’clock and Purple Poppy Mallow — also play very well with immigrants from abroad including Russian Sage, Ice Plant, Torch Lily and many more. These are just a few of the many interesting choices that will happily settle in and make themselves right at home in your garden.
At Echter’s, we carry a wide variety of drought-resistant and xeric plants that are especially suited for Colorado’s dry climate. Our knowledgeable staff will help you choose just the right plants for your landscape.
You’ll find that xeric and native plants are resilient, tenacious and persistent. They will inspire enthusiasm and optimism in your gardening adventures. So celebrate your sense of place, and welcome native and xeric plants to your garden where they will feel right at home!
We’ve experienced some very warm weather this last week, and it looks like there is going to be more of it next week! Some of your plants may be showing signs of heat stress. Leaves may wilt. Vegetables like lettuce and spinach may bolt (flower prematurely) or in the case of plants you want to blossom, like peppers or watermelon, they may drop blossoms, reducing yield. Here are a few tips to help your garden withstand the hottest part of the summer.
Watch Your Plants Plants will often tell you when they are needing water. Lawns will turn a bluish green and show footprints that don’t rebound. Bean leaves will turn a darker green and begin to wilt. Most plants will perform better if you don’t allow them to wilt before watering, so check your garden every day and observe their needs.
Water When Necessary It’s true that you need to water more often during hot weather, but first check the soil. The surface may look dry even though there is plenty of moisture in the root zone. Over-watering can be just as harmful as under-watering, so don’t over do it. Slow, deep watering will ensure that water soaks down to the roots. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems work well. If using a hose that has been laying in the sun, be sure to let it run for a minute or two, until cool water comes out.
Mulch to Keep Things Cool! A couple of inches of organic mulch like compost, grass clippings, or bark mulch will help reduce moisture loss as well as cool the soil temperature. A side benefit is that it prevents most weeds from germinating, too!
Shade Cover cool-weather veggies like lettuce and spinach with shade cloth. It won’t totally prevent bolting, but it might delay it a bit. Also, raise your lawn mower blade up so that you have 3 inches of grass left standing after you mow. This will provide shade for the roots of your lawn keeping them cool and much happier (which means a greener lawn).
Don’t Spray Chemicals During Heat Avoid spraying garden chemicals when temperatures are above 85 degrees. Weed killers can volatilize (evaporate and become air borne) and drift onto desirable plants. Insecticides can burn leaves of plants when temps are above 85. Spray early in the morning when temps are cooler and the air is still, or wait.
Summer is just getting started! With a little extra attention and a little extra know-how, your garden can come through this summer’s heat waves with flying colors, and keep right on blooming!
Watering plants that have been recently planted outdoors is
tricky. The rule is to water them in thoroughly after they are planted. Then
watch the area next to the edge of the original soil ball to see if it is
getting dry. You want to encourage the roots to move out into the surrounding
soil to get water without letting the original soil ball get too dry. Reduce
the watering frequency with time, but water thoroughly each time you water.
Don’t just wet the surface of the soil.
An easy way to harden plants that are going outdoors is to
cover them with Plant & Seed Guard for a few days after you plant them. You
can use wire supports if necessary to hold the fabric away from the plants.
Attach it to the ground with wire staples. It’s re-usable.
Pot begonias and dahlias now and keep them indoors until
later in May. This will give them a good head start and they will bloom earlier
after putting them outside.
Plant gladioli, lilies, cannas, callas, ranunculus,
crocosmia and other summer blooming bulbs toward the end of April. Plant
pansies between the bulbs to give you early color.
Fertilize your spring-flowering bulbs after the blooms have
gone with Gro Rich Rose & Perennial fertilizer. Wait until the leaves turn
brown to remove them. The leaves help build strength in the bulbs for next
Place your plant supports into position early. If you wait
until they really need support, it may be difficult as the plant will be too
large. This is especially true for peonies.
When you hand water, use a nozzle with a shut-off or trigger
nozzle that stops the flow of water when released so you don’t waste water.
Before transplanting, be sure that your plants are not dry.
Flowering annual starts which can be planted out in early April after “hardening them off” are alyssum, dusty miller, sweet peas, anchusa, larkspur, centaurea, pansies, dracaena, and snapdragons. When is it safe to plant other flowers?
Pinch back your annuals to promote stronger, bushier plants and more flower production.
If you have a fence you’d like to hide there are several
plants you can use besides shrubs. Vines like trumpet vine, silver lace vine,
wisteria, honeysuckle vine, Virginia creeper and climbing roses which are
perennials can be used. Annual vines like sweet peas, morning glories, Scarlet runner beans are just a
few good fence covers. Remember other tall plants like sunflower or hollyhocks.
Group flowers and vegetables with the same water needs
together to take advantage of their lower water requirements.
When planning your flower bed, whether it is planted in
annuals or perennials, don’t overlook ornamental grasses for a beautiful
Spring is the best time to divide perennials that bloom in
mid or late summer such as asters and chrysanthemums. Wait until September to
divide early spring-flowering perennials like bleeding hearts and peonies.
Plant wildflower seeds in April. Improve your soil before
planting by raking in either peat moss or compost or a combination of the two.
Add some spice to predictable bulb and perennial beds by
broadcasting seeds of annuals like larkspur, cosmos, poppies, bachelor buttons
or other annuals among your established plants.
April is the best time to plant new trees and shrubs. Improve
the soil first with compost and/or peat moss. Then apply MYKE Tree & Shrub
Transplanter and water in with Root Stimulator, both of which reduce transplant
shock and stimulate root growth.
When planting large trees, stake them for the first year. Use
2” wide staking straps around the tree. Do not use wire, twine or rope on the tree itself. Place the
stakes 2-3 feet away from the tree, tie the strap to the stake and leave a little slack. Let the tree sway
slightly to develop roots and caliper.
April is perfect time to take stock of the plants in your
yard. Are there plants that have overgrown their spaces? Are some sickly and
unattractive? Now is the time to pull them out and replace them with a new and
vibrant plant. This is what garden renewal is about.
Cut back butterfly bushes, blue mist spireas, Russian sage
and other late summer-blooming shrubs at this time.
If you didn’t get around to pruning your shrubs and trees in
March, you can still do some pruning now, the earlier the better.
Start your fertilizing program for roses, trees and shrubs
when the leaves appear on the branches.
Protect your ash trees from Emerald Ash Borers. Use
Ferti-lome Tree and Shrub Systemic Insect Drench for easy-to-use systemic
protection from insects all year long. Follow the label directions and just mix
it with water in a watering can or bucket and pour the solution around the base
of trees or shrubs.
Watch for distorted leaflets on honeylocust trees.
Leafhoppers can damage this trees fine leaves. They can also damage lawns. A
good insecticide can help eliminate these tiny pests.
If you don’t have room for two different fruit trees for
cross pollination, try one of our 4-in-1 apple, pear or sweet cherry trees for a great crop of fruit. There are
four different grafts on one tree.
Are you tired of raking up crabapples in the summer? Spray
crabapple trees with Monterey Floral Growth Regulator at mid to full bloom.
This will prevent the fruit from forming.
Check for borer holes in your shade, spruce and pine trees.
Evidence of these borers will be small holes, possibly with evidence of sap
and/or sawdust. Our plant doctors can recommend the proper treatment depending
on the type of tree and borer.
Remove protective tree wrap from young trees around April 1.
Check the trunk for any problems.
Remember the worms on the ash trees last year? Watch for
them again this year and spray with Eight from Bonide.
Although annuals look beautiful planted around new trees,
there is a danger of over-watering your trees while trying keep your flowers
There are several trees, shrubs, and flowers which will
attract those all-important pollinators – the bees. Anyone with a fruit tree or
a vegetable garden knows their importance. Stop by our Plant Doctor desk for a list of these plants. Remember to refrain from spraying
insecticides while bees are present. Something to note: bumblebees are more
effective pollinators than honeybees.
Deep-root waterers get water under the lawn which is useful
for trees, shrubs and roses. Some of these tools also have a container for
dissolving fertilizer pellets to feed your plants right at the roots.
Before transplanting, always make sure trees and shrubs are
not dry to help avoid transplant stress.
Start treating your pine and spruce trees for insects like
scale, tussock moth, Cooley spruce gall, pine tip moth, pitch mass borer, and
ips beetle. Come in and we can recommend the appropriate preventive treatments.
It’s time to plant seeds of peas, turnips, carrots, beets,
spinach, Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes. Plant garlic cloves, seed potatoes,
dormant strawberry plants and onion sets.
Keep an N-sulate cover handy for unexpected frosts after
your garden is planted. It will keep the frost off new seedlings as they emerge
from the soil.
Mid-April is the time to set out broccoli, cabbage,
cauliflower, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, radicchio, and Brussels sprouts plants. Be
sure to “harden them off” first.
Enjoy an earlier growing season by four weeks by setting out
Season Starter plant protectors in April. You can set tomatoes and pepper
plants inside them ten days after initial setup of your Season Starter. The
setup period allows the soil beneath the solar shelters to warm to a
temperature suitable for plant growth.
If you are having trouble growing plants in your gardens,
have your soil tested. We can test your soil for nutrient deficiencies for a
nominal fee. We can let you know what to do to improve your soil for more
flowers and vegetables.
Vegetable gardens benefit from watering at ground level,
instead of watering overhead. Watering with soaker hoses helps to prevent many
diseases and insects.
Remember to rotate your vegetable crop plantings each year.
Plant each variety of vegetable in a different part of your garden than you did
last year. This will minimize repeated problems with disease and insects.
Plant your fast growing crops in two-week intervals to
prolong the availability of lettuce, spinach, peas, and radishes. When the
weather gets too hot for these vegetables, plant some in the shade of taller
plants, like pole beans and corn. This system is also good for gardeners with
By placing a floating row cover over your carrot, lettuce,
and spinach seed, your seeds will germinate quicker, and the birds won’t make a
meal of them. Floating row covers also eliminate cabbage loopers on cabbage,
broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Keep your cover handy in
case there is a cold snap for any newly planted vegetables and flowers.
Use soaker hoses in your vegetable garden and flower beds.
You can either lay the hose on top of the soil next to the plant or bury it to
get water directly to the roots. Soaker hoses can also be used to water trees and shrubs.
Early April is the best time to start fertilizing your lawn.
By using a fertilizer with pre-emergent (weed and grass preventer), you will be
able to eliminate a lot of annual grass and weed seeds by keeping them from
April is a good time to seed or overseed lawns. Use a good grass seed and apply New Lawn Starter fertilizer after the seed is sown. Keep the area moist even after germination. Do not apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control before or after seeding, as this will prevent grass seed germination.
Core aerate your lawn before fertilizing this month. Not
only does this help the lawn’s vigor and health, it also reduces maintenance
and water usage. Be sure your lawn is well watered a day or two before
Keep your mower blade sharp. Dull blades can invite lawn
diseases to enter grass blades. Bring your rotary mower blades into Echter’s
for sharpening. You can bring them in on or off the mower.
Use a rain gauge to measure the amount of water you are
putting on your lawn. Apply 3/4” to 1” slowly enough to evenly soak the lawn
without running off the area.
Inspect your irrigation system regularly. Be sure sprinkler
heads are not plugged and are properly adjusted for the radius and the level of
spray needed. As surrounding plants grow, you will need to modify your system.
Especially check for leaks in the sprinkler lines.
On a nice warm day, take your houseplants outside and give
them a shower, or use your bathroom shower. The plants will appreciate a good
cleaning after being inside all winter.
It’s spring cleaning season even for birds. If you haven’t
cleaned your bird houses this year, clean them out and then spray them with a bird feeder cleaner before
the new birds arrive.
Continue feeding the birds at your feeders. Seed-producing
plants are just beginning to grow and there are now more birds competing for the depleted wild seed
supply. Give them a supply of water also.
In the realm of houseplants, not all species are created equal. Some plants flourish in bright light, some need direct sunlight, and others are perfectly content in the subtle embrace of low-light conditions. For those of us with spaces that lack abundant natural light, there’s still a world of green possibilities out there! Let’s explore seven remarkable low-light houseplants that not only survive but thrive in the shadows.
What does Low Light Mean? It’s important to remember that low light doesn’t mean no light! Even plants that prefer to be out of direct sunlight will need some light to thrive and look their best. Low light can refer to positioning a plant in a bright room, but out of direct sunlight. It can also be created by diffusing direct light through a sheer curtain, or even by placing another plant in front to shield the low-light plant.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The Peace Lily is a true gem in the world of low-light plants. It will survive in light too dim for most other plants. Its glossy, dark green leaves are complemented by elegant white flowers, creating a beautiful accent in any indoor space. Beyond its visual appeal, the Peace Lily excels at improving indoor air quality. It’s known to filter out common pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia, making it an excellent choice for bedrooms and living areas. TIPS: Keep out of direct sunlight. Leach soil monthly to remove salts which can cause brown tipping of leaves.
Rex Begonia (Begonia rex)
If you’re looking to add a little color in a low-light location, Rex Begonia fits the bill nicely. This is a stunning foliage plant that adds an artistic touch to your indoor garden. Known for its mesmerizing, variegated leaves that come in a wide array of colors and patterns, this plant is a true visual delight. It thrives in low-light conditions, provides color throughout the year, and is surprisingly low-maintenance. TIPS: Avoid direct sunlight to prevent leaf scorch. Avoid getting water on the foliage.
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
The ZZ Plant is the epitome of resilience in the plant kingdom. This member of the Cyad family features glossy, dark green fronds that add a touch of modern elegance to any space. One of the most low-maintenance houseplants available, the ZZ is exceptionally drought-tolerant and can survive extended periods without water. In addition to its adaptability, it’s also a superb air purifier, efficiently removing toxins from the indoor air. TIPS: Prefers to stay warm — a minimum of 55°F in winter. Do not overwater. Likes to be somewhat pot-bound.
Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
The Heartleaf Philodendron is a beloved classic in the world of indoor gardening. With its heart-shaped, trailing leaves, this easy-to-grow plant is beautiful as either a hanging plant or climbing a trellis. It’s exceptionally adaptable to low-light conditions and can thrive even in rooms with minimal natural light. This lovely plant makes a wonderful addition to any living space. TIPS: Avoid temperatures below 60°F. Prune to increase fullness.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
The Snake Plant, also known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue, is a stalwart in the realm of low-light houseplants. Its striking, upright leaves come in various shades of green, often with unique variegation. This plant is not only resilient in low-light conditions but also boasts impressive air-purifying abilities. It’s known to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, making it an excellent choice for bedrooms. TIPS: Does best when potbound. Fertilize only in the summer.
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Look at any beginner-friendly houseplant list, and you will find Pothos near the top. With its cascading vines and shiny heart-shaped leaves, it’s a versatile and especially easy-to-grow houseplant. It is particularly well-suited for environments with limited light, and will also tolerate lower humidity levels and still remain happy. Pothos is resilient to most pests and diseases, and is an excellent choice for beginners and seasoned plant enthusiasts alike. TIP: water only when the soil turns dry to the touch.
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
Chinese Evergreens are renowned for their striking, lance-shaped leaves that come in various shades of green, often adorned with silver, pink, or cream-colored patterns. This easy-care plant makes a significant visual impact with very little maintenance. They are exceptionally adaptable to low-light conditions, making them an excellent choice for offices and rooms with minimal natural light. TIP: Keep out of drafts and avoid placing them in cold rooms. Prefers frequent light feedings.
In the world of low-light houseplants, there’s a wealth of options to choose from, each offering its own unique charm and benefits. By incorporating these resilient and visually captivating plants into your indoor space, you not only enhance the aesthetic appeal but also promote a healthier and more tranquil environment. Embrace the beauty of greenery, even in the shadows!
Adding a tree to your landscape can bring years of enjoyment throughout every season, but there’s something extra special about a maple tree in the autumn. Their vibrant colors are part of what makes the season so very beautiful.
There’s no shortage of choices among this popular type of tree. Over 130 different types of maple trees can be found within the Acer plant genus, which are further divided into eleven different varieties. A walk through our nursery will provide you with plenty of choices among these popular trees, and it can be downright difficult to choose.
Each type of maple tree offers its own unique charm and benefits. Let’s explore five of the most popular varieties: the Autumn Blaze Maple, Redpointe Maple, Armstrong Gold Maple, Crimson Sunset Maple, and Sensation Maple, and discover why each would be an excellent choice for your landscape.
Autumn Blaze Maple (Acer x freemanii ‘Autumn Blaze’)
Bringing the Fiery Beauty of Fall to Your Garden
The Autumn Blaze Maple is a tried-and-true favorite among Colorado gardeners, and for good reason. This hybrid variety, a cross between the silver maple and red maple, is renowned for its breathtaking display of fiery autumnal colors. Its leaves transition from vibrant green in spring to a blazing spectrum of red, orange, and yellow come fall. With its upright, oval shape and rapid growth rate, it can reach a height of 50 feet or more, making it a majestic addition to any landscape.
Colorado’s fluctuating climate can be a challenge, but the Autumn Blaze is well-suited to withstand the state’s diverse weather conditions. It’s adaptable to different soil types and is relatively pest and disease-resistant. This maple’s hardiness and stunning seasonal show make it an excellent choice for Colorado gardeners looking to add a touch of autumnal brilliance to their outdoor space.
Redpointe Maple (Acer rubrum ‘Frank Jr.’)
The Epitome of Elegance and Durability
If you’re seeking a maple tree that embodies both elegance and resilience, the Redpointe Maple should be at the top of your list. This cultivar of the native red maple is celebrated for its refined appearance and adaptability. Its glossy, dark green leaves turn a vibrant red in the fall, creating a stunning contrast against its gray bark.
One of the key advantages of the Redpointe Maple is its ability to thrive in a variety of soil conditions, including the alkaline soils often found in Colorado. It also displays excellent resistance to pests and diseases. With its moderate growth rate and mature height of 40 to 50 feet, this maple offers a perfect balance between manageable size and striking presence. For Colorado gardeners wanting both a versatile and visually striking addition to their landscape, the Redpointe Maple is a standout choice.
Armstrong Gold Maple (Acer platanoides ‘JFS-KW202’)
Vertical Elegance and Dazzling Foliage
The Armstrong Gold Maple is a cultivar of the Norway Maple, known for its elegant, upright growth habit and brilliant golden-yellow leaves. This slender tree reaches heights of 30 to 40 feet, making it an excellent choice for smaller gardens or spaces where vertical emphasis is desired. Its compact size also makes it a fantastic option for urban and suburban environments.
In Colorado, where space can sometimes be limited, the Armstrong Gold shines as a space-saving yet impactful choice. It’s also well-suited to various soil types and exhibits strong resistance to pests and diseases. The striking gold foliage persists throughout the growing season, adding a touch of radiance to your landscape. For Colorado gardeners who would like a vertical focal point with year-round visual interest, the Armstrong Gold is a stellar pick.
Crimson Sunset Maple (Acer truncatum x A. platanoides ‘JFS-KW202’)
An Invigorating Burst of Crimson All Year Round
The Crimson Sunset Maple is a captivating hybrid maple that brings a burst of deep crimson to your garden throughout the entire year. Its distinctive, maroon-red leaves maintain their rich color from spring through fall, providing a consistent display of beauty. This cultivar is known for its rapid growth and ability to adapt to various soil conditions.
At a mature height of 30 to 40 feet, the Crimson Sunset is well-suited to a wide range of landscape designs. Its dense, rounded canopy provides ample shade, making it a welcome addition to outdoor spaces where relief from the sun is desired. With its striking foliage and adaptable nature, this maple is an excellent choice for Colorado gardeners who are looking for a reliable, year-round burst of deep-crimson color in their garden.
Sensation Maple (Acer platanoides ‘Sensation’)
Delight in the Symphony of Foliage
The Sensation Maple, a cultivar of the Norway Maple, is aptly named for the symphony of colors it brings to your garden. In spring, its leaves unfurl in shades of pink, cream, and green, creating a visually captivating display. As the seasons progress, the foliage transitions to a stunning variegation of white and green in summer, and finally into an outstanding display of brilliant red autumn foliage, providing year-round interest.
This maple’s adaptability to various soil types, coupled with its resistance to pests and diseases, makes it a reliable choice for Colorado gardeners. With a mature height of 30 to 40 feet, the Sensation is well-suited to both large and small landscapes. Its unique and ever-changing foliage ensures that there’s always something exciting happening in your garden.
In the vibrant tapestry of Colorado’s diverse landscapes, these five maple trees each bring their own unique personality and benefits. Whether you’re looking for the fiery hues of the Autumn Blaze, the refined elegance of the Redpointe, the vertical grace of the Armstrong Gold, the year-round deep burgundy of the Crimson Sunset, or the ever-changing foliage of the Sensation, there’s a maple tree that will be perfectly at home in your garden.
If you just can’t decide, come in and talk to one of our certified nursery professionals! They’ll be happy to answer all of your questions and help you choose one of these remarkable maples for your landscape.
Are you planting a bulb buffet for squirrels each autumn? It can be frustrating to go through the work of planting all those beautiful flower bulbs only to discover them dug up and chewed a few days later.
Take heart! Many a gardener has had this experience, and a few have come up with some creative ways to solve the problem. Armed with these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a squirrel-proof spring garden. Let’s dive in!
Delay Your Planting Schedule The problem is bulb planting season coincides with squirrels-fattening-up-for-winter season, and that leads to hungry squirrels eating freshly planted flower bulbs! One solution can be to delay your planting time. The height of their feeding frenzy typically peaks in early fall, but it begins to wane by late October. By then, squirrels have already fattened up sufficiently and stored up their winter supplies.
In Colorado, it’s generally a good idea to wait until the weather cools in October before planting spring-flowering bulbs anyway. You can always purchase your bulbs when they first hit the garden center shelves in September, then keep them stored until the weather cools enough to safely put them in the ground.
Add Something They Don’t Like Are tulips and crocuses your favorite spring flowers? They’re a squirrel’s favorite too! To give your tulips & crocuses a fighting chance, try mixing in a few bulbs that will make squirrels turn up their noses and look for better smelling food elsewhere.
Try adding Allium bulbs to your spring display. Squirrels have an aversion to the scent of this member of the onion family! Planting these ornamental onions among your vulnerable spring bulbs can act as a natural deterrent. Try intermingling Allium with your tulips, crocuses, and other spring favorites. This not only adds an interesting floral visual element, but also helps shield your more delicate blooms.
Create a Protective Barrier Before planting your bulbs, consider laying down a layer of chicken wire over the soil. This mesh barrier will deter squirrels from digging while still allowing your bulbs to grow through.
Make sure to firmly secure the edges of the chicken wire to prevent any curious critters from lifting it. This extra step ensures your bulbs stay safe and sound. Then cover the wire barrier and the bulbs with soil. The wire will make it difficult for squirrels to dig and encourage them to look elsewhere for an easier meal.
Try Squirrel Repellents There are several natural substances that squirrels find unappetizing. You can sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or a garlic-based repellent around your bulb beds.
There are also several ready-to-use squirrel repellents that use all-natural ingredients that you can try. They also repel through strong smells like cedarwood and garlic. Be persistent with all of these, as they’ll need to be reapplied after rain.
Conceal with Mulch Magic Applying a generous layer of mulch over your bulb beds serves two purposes. Firstly, it helps regulate soil temperature and moisture levels, creating an ideal environment for bulb growth. Secondly, it conceals the scent of the bulbs from prying squirrel noses! Choose Wisely: opt for a heavier mulch like wood chips or bark, which are more difficult for squirrels to move aside.
Remember, persistence is key when it comes to outsmarting hungry squirrels! By combining these tactics, you can create a more formidable defense against these crafty critters and ensure your spring flowering bulbs dazzle with lots of vibrant blooms.
We curate our patio furniture lines to offer what we feel is the finest outdoor furniture available. We don’t sell what we wouldn’t own ourselves! Here’s a quick rundown on our favorite patio furniture and why we love it.
Material: Recycled Poly lumber
Why we love it: It’s environmentally friendly, sustainable, amazingly durable, maintenance free, and we love the color choices.
What is recycled poly lumber? Simply put, it’s recycled plastics. Every year thousands of HDPE (high density polyethylene) milk jugs and water bottles are rescued from America’s waste stream and recycled into sturdy poly lumber by Breezesta. These raw plastics are decontaminated, then formed into a rigid board material that’s mold & mildew resistant and guaranteed not to warp. The resulting finished product contains over 90% recycled plastic by weight. That’s eco-friendly!
Breezesta offers a variety of beautiful color choices, but the polywood color is not just a paint on the surface — it runs all the way through the lumber! Using a proprietary process, ultraviolet inhibitors and stabilizers are mixed in with the pigments as the polylumber is formed. So the rich colors cannot chip off with wear, and any scratches may easily be sanded out. The color is guaranteed not to fade for three years. The polylumber itself is covered by a limited lifetime warranty against cracking, splintering, chipping/peeling, rot and insect infestation.
Material: Ipé Wood
Why we love it: Ipé is one of the densest woods in the world with a remarkable resilience and a rich, chocolate brown color. Sustainably sourced and grown.
Ipé (ee-pay) wood grows abundantly in the tropical Chiquitania Forest of Eastern Bolivia. Due to the unique dry climate there, trees grow very slowly, resulting in extremely strong, durable wood. Jensen’s commitment to sustainable growing and harvesting has earned them the distinction of being one of the first outdoor furniture manufacturers to receive an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification.
Ipé timber is known for its amazing durability and resistance to weather, moisture, sun and wind, which makes it an ideal wood for quality outdoor furniture. Its remarkable resilience makes it resistant to damage from scuffing, cracking, and warping due to weather and wear. These beautiful pieces will stand the test of time.
The deep chocolate-brown grain may be allowed to naturally age to a silver patina or it can be brought back to “new” at any time with a wood oil. Mortise and tenon joinery maintain long-term strength, and fine-grain sanding techniques bring the timber to a glass-smooth finish.
Material: Polyethylene Wicker
Why we love it: Maintenance-free, all-weather wicker on aluminum powder-coated frames equals optimal strength and durability.
We love Kettler’s commitment to creating outdoor living comfort through high-quality materials, solid construction techniques, and outstanding durability in their furniture. Their indoor/outdoor wicker is intricately handwoven with a synthetic, maintenance-free, all-weather rattan over aluminum powder-coated frames. A UV rating of 2000 hours provides a high level of colorfastness combined with all-weather Sunbrella fabrics to withstand even the harshest elements. It’s wicker that can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors. The aluminum and wicker are both warranted for three years. Finally, an all-weather wicker!
Material: Galvanized steel
Why we love it: Durable steel that’s hand welded and hand finished in contemporary styles and bright, cheery colors.
It’s easy to bring a bright pop of color to your garden with one of Innova’s contemporary styles. We love Innova’s commitment to blending superior construction and unique design. Made from galvanized steel and fully powder-coated for enhanced color retention and weather resistance. Hand welded and hand finished garden benches that make outdoor living both comfortable and beautiful.
Material: Cast Aluminum
Why we love it: Classic designs that are comfortable and elegant combined with durability that will provide years of carefree enjoyment.
We love Hanamint for their commitment to providing quality furniture with durable finishes in timeless elegant designs! Their patio furniture is sandcast aluminum, which is noted for its durability and rust resistance. The process of sandcasting dates back thousands of years, and each piece is the result of numerous craftsmen working together to produce each handmade piece.
They are then finished with an 8-step polyester powder-coating process. This ensures the finish will stay beautiful year after year. Hanamint only uses Sunbrella fabrics for their cushions. That means they’re easy to clean and stay beautiful in all types of weather. If you’re looking for classic design, durability, and maintenance-free patio furniture, choose Hanamint!
Stop by and visit our outdoor living department! You’ll find quality furniture along with fire pits and lots of accessories that’ll make your outdoor rooms comfortable and beautiful year in and year out.
It’s the hottest topic for Colorado gardeners right now — waterwise gardening. How can we make the most of our landscape while using less water and supporting local pollinators at the same time? Choosing the right plant for the right location is always a recipe for success! Following are five of the best performing plants for our region.
Zauschneria Orange Carpet
(Epilobium canum ssp. garrettii) Height: 4″-6″ Width: 18″-24″ Sun requirements: full sun to partial sun USDA Hardiness: Zones 3-8
Rapidly spreading groundcover with masses of orange-scarlet flowers in summer. A selection made from seed collected in Idaho, this is the best form of California fuchsia for high altitude or cool climate gardens. To help establish new transplants, provide supplemental winter water for the first couple of years if winter conditions are dry. Needs full sun for best growth. Thrives in disturbed soils – aerate surrounding soil with push aerator or spading fork from time to time.
Bluemat Penstemon Waggon Wheel
(Penstemon caespitosus) Height: 1″-2″ Width: 12″-14″ Full Sun USDA Hardiness: Zones 4-7
Tiny, spoon-like leaves sprout on prostrate stems that grow into circular, evergreen mats, outfitting this plant’s name, Waggon Wheel Bluemat Penstemon. Centimeter-long tubular flowers glow blue to lavender throughout the foliage from early June to July. Native to Colorado and Wyoming mountains, it prefers well-drained soil, but is adaptable to clay loam conditions. It does not like to be over-watered, making it perfect for water-wise gardens!
(Artemisia abrotanum) Height: 24″-36″ Width: 24″-30″ Sun, Shade, Partial Sun USDA Hardiness: Zones 4-8
A compact selection of the ancient garden herb that forms a dense, symmetrical mound of whorled silver-green foliage. Plant en masse to create a low garden hedge suggestive of boxwood but heat-loving! Cut back in January to early spring when fully dormant. Tolerant of shady conditions as well as full sun.
(Asclepius speciosa) Height: 4-6 ft. Width: 4 ft. Full Sun USDA Hardiness: Zones 3-8
Showy milkweed is similar in form to common milkweed but less aggressive, making it more manageable in a garden setting. Spiky pink flowers atop thick upright stems bloom June through August. Monarch butterflies lay eggs exclusively on plants in the Asclepias genus. With this plant in your garden, you’re sure to see monarchs!
Poppy Mallow Winecups
(Callirhoe involucrata) Height: 4″-6″ Width: 24″-30″ Full Sun USDA Hardiness: Zones 4-9
Also known as simply “winecups.” A native wildflower that decorates the garden with a summer-long display of bright magenta-pink flowers. A sprawling grower, Callirhoe involucrata’s long branches spread out across the ground to create a colorful mat of flowers and foliage. This plant will cascade over a rock wall or will make a good rock garden plant. Blooms appear July through September.
We have plenty of different types of perennial plants for almost any landscape. You can use our plant finder reference tool to search for more water-wise plants. Once you have an idea of what kind of plants you’re looking for, come in and see us! Our experts are always happy to provide advice and answer any questions you may have.
With the arrival of summer comes an abundance of sunshine, warm temperatures, and maximum daylight hours. It’s definitely time to get outdoors and enjoy a little fun in the sun — garden fun, that is!
While working in your garden can be lots of fun, gardening has many practical benefits as well. From alleviating stress to weight loss to improved mental health, time spent in the garden gives back to us in so many wonderful ways.
Boost Your Vitamin D Intake Naturally After a long winter spent indoors, it’s positively blissful to get out in the sun and breathe fresh air again! One of the secrets that Coloradoans have known for years is that a little sunshine goes a long way towards improving your mood naturally.
What is relatively new knowledge is the fact that when exposed to the sun, your skin can manufacture its own Vitamin D. The role of Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) in keeping bones strong is already well-established. A Colorado summer will provide plenty of sunlight to boost the vitamin D levels in your body naturally.
Build Muscle & Lose the Winter Pounds Those seemingly endless garden tasks like digging, planting, weeding, watering, and mulching all keep you moving — and that’s good!
Here’s a fun fact: just thirty minutes of active gardening can burn up to 280 calories. You can banish weeds and pounds at the same time! Who needs a treadmill when you’ve got a garden?
Improve Your Diet Effortlessly A natural extension of growing your own food is that often there is a change in your diet. After all, when you’re growing your own fruits and veggies, it goes without saying you’ll be eating what you grow!
The freshness and flavor of homegrown vegetables are what every gardener looks forward to. Fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and corn are the precious rewards for all those hours spent toiling in the garden. Superior taste and quality are just the beginning though. Those humble fruits and veggies are jam-packed with valuable dietary fiber, and fiber intake is linked to lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and obesity. They are also a source of important vitamins and minerals.
Enjoy the Positive Effects on Your Mental Health Many people like to get outdoors and dig in the soil because it just makes them feel good. Nowadays, it’s a great way to unplug from the ever-present digital devices and destress naturally.
It’s easier to relax and let go of stress while performing repetitive tasks, and gardening provides a lot of repetitive tasks. Recent studies show that what’s good for the body is also good for the mind. Working outdoors in the garden releases “happy hormones” like dopamine and serotonin. These are hormones that make us feel good, while at the same time reducing the level of destructive stress hormones like cortisol. While all of those gardening chores may be tiring, they are naturally dissipating excess energy which helps us sleep better at night.
Passing it Forward to the Next Generation It goes without saying that all kids just naturally enjoy playing in the dirt! Gardening can indulge that desire in a productive way. Kids are thrilled with unexpected garden surprises like digging up a carrot, radish, or potato!
Involving them in the garden provides invaluable teachable moments in life as well. Planting something and watching it grow will naturally teach children a sense of responsibility. If their first gardening experiences are fun and successful, they’re likely to develop a green thumb that will stay with them all their lives. Research suggests that gardening encourages a lifetime of healthy habits too. Try growing this year’s Halloween pumpkins in the garden. Learning to love growing your own food is a gift that will keep giving back to them for a lifetime.
The Element of Fun George Bernard Shaw once famously said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”
Having fun is not just for kids! It’s important at every age — in fact, it’s a basic requirement for good health in general. So why not add a little fun to your garden? You can introduce an element of whimsy with a kinetic sculpture or a wind spinner. You might choose to add an enjoyable glow to summer evenings with colorful solar stakes, or just sit back and relax while watching birds at play in a birdbath.
Summer’s here, but it won’t last forever! Make it a point to get out into your garden each day, and enjoy some summer fun in your garden.
Your mountain garden can thrive if you start by choosing the right plants! These are plants that will tolerate the high-altitude conditions in your particular climate zone. Many trees, shrubs, perennials, and cool-season annuals grow well at higher elevations.
The Mountain Floral Palette Consider classics like columbine, delphinium, lupine, bleeding heart, shasta daisies, and gaillardia in your garden. Enduring favorites like peonies and colorful oriental poppies are the mainstays of many a mountain perennial garden — and for good reason: they are all plants that will thrive at elevation!
Mountain gardeners should select perennial varieties that bloom in early to mid-summer. Late bloomers (good at lower altitudes) will get caught by the early fall mountain freezes. Brown-eyed Susan, painted daisy, yarrow, sunflowers, and columbine can also be seeded or planted in gardens or natural areas.
Don’t overlook roses. Grafted roses may not be winter hardy over 6500′ and should be treated as an annual in the mountains. Look for roses grown on their own roots including miniature roses and Rugosa roses. The Canadian, Parkland, and Explorer series also do well. It is important to follow instructions on winterizing your roses by protecting canes and roots from cold temperatures.
For the Vegetable Garden Look for all of those cool-season veggies that grow so well at lower altitudes in the spring and fall. They’ll be happy all summer long in the cooler growing climate in the mountains! Vegetables like leafy greens and root vegetables are good choices, as are broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and peas.
Shrubs That Will Shrug Off the Cold There are many shrubs that do well in a mountain landscape. The curly leaf mountain mahogany is a native evergreen and has a beautiful upright shape. It sports attractive seed heads in late summer. The tiny trumpet honeysuckle would make a nice addition to a mountain landscape. It offers showy, fragrant, reddish-pink trumpet-shaped flowers for many weeks in the summer.
One of our favorites is the serviceberry bush. It offers beautiful white flowers in the spring, followed by edible fruit (serviceberries) the service berry bush also provides fall color in shades of oranges and yellows. The red twig dogwood provides a showy red contrast against winter snow banks. It grows to a height of 3 feet with a spread of 3 feet.
The Apache plume is a native shrub with a white flowers similar to that of a rose. These are followed by feathery, rose colored seed tails. Planted against a dark background, the Apache plume’s white stems are striking. Often overlooked and many times hard to find, the Russian hawthorn is a small tree (or large shrub). The Russian hawthorn sports yellow to orange fall color and provides food for the birds in the winter. The beautiful cinnamon bark of the native river birch gives the tall shrub an interesting winter texture.
The lingonberry, an evergreen 4 to 8 inches high is rated to zone 2 and ideal for a part shade border. This shrub is self pollinating and its berries are great for jams, jellies, and sauces.
Wild Cranberry? Yes! This conversation piece grows to zone 3 and is evergreen. The wild cranberry has delicate foliage followed by edible berries in the fall.
Echter’s plant profile signage provides and elevation guide for most plants, and our nursery, perennials, and annuals experts will be happy to answer questions about the suitability of plants for a high-altitude garden.
Remember to harden your plants off before planting! It gives them the best possible chance to adjust to their new environment!
What are Microclimates? Knowing the importance of microclimates is essential for a garden that thrives at a high altitude. What are they? A microclimate is a small, but distinctly different climate within a larger area. These small areas may be a little warmer, cooler, wetter, or drier depending entirely on their location. Becoming aware of these small climate pockets helps mountain gardeners to choose and site plants more wisely.
Looking for warmer microclimates Gardens on south-facing slopes are warmer and drier than gardens on north-facing slopes of the same valley at the same elevation! So a garden planted in full sun on a southern-exposed slope will have a longer, warmer growing season than other exposures. Southern exposures are a great place for plants that need more heat to come into flower before early autumn frosts.
Things like structures, fences, large rocks, walls, and trees can all act to provide protective screening from harsh winds. Their thermal mass can raise nearby temperatures and create a warmer microclimate in those areas.
Becoming aware of cooler microclimates Plant growth is slowed by cool soil temperatures, which drive plant metabolism. When soil temps drop below 55 degrees, plants stop growing. North-facing areas and low spots on your property will naturally be cooler.
Look for any small dips and indentations on your property, which can create collections points for cold air. As a result, frost pockets may be more likely to form in those spots.
Walk through your property carefully looking for these microclimates. This will help you place your plants and shrubs where they will have a better chance at succeeding, and your mountain garden will thrive!
Nothing says summer like a garden filled with bright colorful flowers. So when the spring color show begins to fade and the threat of Jack Frost visiting the garden has passed, it’s time to have some fun and plug in the summer color with these popular single-season plants.
CHOOSING ANNUALS FOR YOUR GARDEN SPACE There are annuals that are sun lovers and annuals that prefer the shadier side of the garden. Don’t worry — there’s a palette of plants to choose from for either situation. When choosing your plants in the greenhouse, pay special attention to the amount of sunlight they will receive where you plant them.
Annuals that require full sun will need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight on their foliage each day, while part-sun plants would like 4-6 hours of sun daily. Those shade-loving plants will manage with dappled light through the leaves of trees, or less than 4 hours of sunlight daily. Note: partial & full-shade plants in Colorado must beprotected from mid-day through mid-afternoon sun.
Sun loving annuals include African Daisy, geraniums, petunias, calibrachoa, and bacopa. Shade loving annuals include impatiens, begonia, lobelia, vinca vine, fuchsia, and many more. There’s no shortage of choices for these single-season plants.
Think about the final height and width of the plants in your plan. Pay attention to the recommended spacing between the plants. This will help to avoid overcrowding as the plants grow, which can encourage pest and disease problems.
When choosing colors, consider the time of day you will enjoy your flower garden. Red tends to dull at twilight, while white or silver foliage will give a nice glow to your gardens in the evening.
PREPARING TO PLANT YOUR ANNUALS Remember to harden your plants off gradually before putting them out into the sunny garden all day. What does it mean to harden a plant off? It means to gradually expose a plant to the elements outdoors. Plants coming from the protected environment of a greenhouse need to get accustomed to drier air, brighter sunshine, and wind.
If they are set out suddenly, the change can damage them permanently. We recommend that you set them in a semi-protected area for a few days where they will get some exposure to the elements. Then, when they have been toughened somewhat, you can plant them into a fully-exposed site.
KEEP THE FLOWER POWER GOING ALL SUMMER Annuals are pretty prolific bloomers, but they need a little maintenance to keep them looking their best.
Fertilize them regularly with a blossom booster formulation. This is particularly important with annuals that are planted in containers, since container plantings are watered more often. This flushes out nutrients in the potting soil that will need to be replaced. Feed with Jack’s Blossom Booster fertilizer every couple of weeks to maintain the summer color show.
For in-ground annuals, mix flower fertilizer into the soil at planting time. Reapply as needed following directions on the package or use Blossom Booster regularly during the season.
Pinch your annuals back if they become leggy. You will lose a few flowers for a while, but be rewarded with many more later in the season. For some annuals deadheading (pinching off old flowers as they fade) will keep the beds looking beautiful and encourage more flowers. Most of the new varieties of annuals have so much flower power bred into them that they will continue to flower through the season with minimal maintenance. Calibrachoa is a good example.
Go ahead and get creative with your landscape this summer! Have some fun with your plant selections and design layout. Since annuals only last for one growing season, they make it easy to experiment with bright hues, textures, and forms. Whatever your style, mood, or color preference, you can easily create a garden that is uniquely “you” with the abundance of different annuals available.