Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Scoop on Xeriscaping

The other day, I heard a news reporter say, “Zeroscaping.”  To her credit, we hear that word a lot.  Unfortunately the word zero implies that no water or care is needed.  Most people are actually referring to xeriscaping, ” a word originally coined by a special task force of the Denver Water Department, Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Colorado State University to describe landscaping with water conservation as a major objective. The derivation of the word is from the Greek “xeros,” meaning dry, and landscaping — thus, xeriscaping.”

So xeriscaping doesn’t mean ‘no water,’ it means conserving water.  All xeric plants will require water to become established, and less water after that.  If you don’t water them at all after they’re established, you may not be pleased with the resulting stunted growth and possible death of the plants.  The good news is that xeric plants will require considerably less water than others in your landscape, a good thing to think about as Grand Valley water suppliers look to continue drought watering restrictions.  Properly planted and irrigated xeriscapes can be as beautiful and lush as traditional cottage gardens.


If you’re considering converting your landscape to a xeriscape, it’s important to consider exposure, soil, irrigation, mulching and plant selection.  See more about these in this excellent article.  Having a plan before you start will improve your chances of success with your new water-wise landscaping.  Mt Garfield Greenhouse carries many of the plants suggested in the linked article, as well as a variety of mulches and landscape fabrics.

Image from Xeriscape Colorado

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Plant Hardiness vs Record Cold (Boy Was it Cold Last Winter!)

Today the snow is melting almost as quickly as it falls.  Not the case for most of the 2012-2013 winter.  The Valley got snow in mid-December that stayed on the ground well into February, held there by one of the coldest winters on record.  Mid-January found us 12 degrees BELOW zero F.  Brrrrrr!  Uncomfortable for us, possibly deadly for some of your plants.

Colorado planting zones

The USDA publishes a map of “Plant Hardiness Zones,” listing the Grand Valley as zone 7a, with winter lows in the 0 to 5 degrees F ABOVE range.

What?!  Your friends here at Mt Garfield think of the Grand Valley as a zone 6, with winter lows usually in the -5 to 0F range in a good year, and lows in the -10 to -5F in a cold year.  This winter’s -12F would place us in zone 5!  These numbers are very important to your perennials, shrubs and trees.

Mt Garfield sells plants that are generally hardy to zone 6–usual for the Grand Valley.  Zone 6 plants should survive as far as temperatures go…usually.  Not all plants survive anyway, because they are living things and susceptible to variations of microclimates, soils, exposure, insect and disease attacks, and water availability.  However, this winter’s low, low temperatures may result in more winter-kill than usual.

As the weather warms and plants begin to break dormancy, you may find some of your perennials, shrubs, roses, fruit, or trees didn’t survive.  Some plants are naturally slow to leaf out in the spring, so check around before pulling a plant out and replacing it.

Gardening is a joy, but can be frustrating at times.  Especially when Mother Nature keeps us in the deep freeze or sends a plague of squash bugs!  Your friends here at Mt Garfield are here to help with fertilizers, insecticides, soils, and healthy plants. Being gardeners ourselves, we understand and share the ups and downs of growing things.  We’re happy for you when your garden thrives, and sad right along with you when winter kills your favorite rose.

Here’s to the start of another gardening season here in the Grand Valley, looking forward to first blossoms and the persistence to keep on gardening, no matter what Mother Nature brings!

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