Along the front range and much of the state of Colorado has a unique climate which requires hardy semi-arid and arid plants. You have to choose plants that will hold up under the dry conditions and lend beauty, color, form, and style to your landscape. When landscaping in Colorado Springs and other areas of the state, it’s a good idea to keep in mind the short growing season and bloom times of various plants in order to get the most out of your garden during the spring, summer, and fall months before your plants disappear under the winter snow.
What Grows Well in Colorado
- Succulents (cacti) –Require little water, come in various shapes, sizes, and colors.
- Limemound spirea – a medium-sized shrub with lime green leaves and dark pink blossoms that thrives in full sun to partial shade.
- Bowles Periwinkle – this evergreen perennial makes an excellent ground cover with its dark green leaves and beautiful violet-blue, pinwheel-shaped flowers.
- Ice Plants – the blooms on this perennial favorite offer brilliant iridescent color, and these plants can hold up to the full sun, offering your garden glorious color throughout the summer
- Ornamental grasses – for color, variety, and structure, ornamental grasses such as Little Bluestem, and Indian Rice grass are good choices.
- Snow Angel Coral Bells – this perennial offers highly textured, heart-shaped leaves, brilliant pinkish-red blooms suitable for cutting and a 12-18” height to balance out shorter plantings. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and blooms late spring to early summer.
- Evening Primrose – these delicate yellow, pink, or white blossoms add a whimsical touch to your Colorado garden and offer health benefits in their seeds and the oil that can be extracted from them. Some varieties reach up to six inches in height, others as much as six feet.
How to care for Colorado Garden Plants
When considering Colorado garden ideas, keep in mind the lack of moisture available in our arid climate. For Colorado Springs, Xeriscape Design is a popular option. This style of landscaping involves arid plants. They require little water, and you won’t have to spend your days watering and tending to your garden. Be patient, and don’t plant your garden until the ground dries out from the Colorado spring rains and the weather is warm enough to support your summer plantings. Planting in wet soil compacts it, making it difficult for new plant roots to become established and grow, and walking on wet soil can lead to compacted areas that are difficult to break up once the ground is dry and ready to put your Colorado garden plants in place. You can incorporate xeriscape in various sections of your garden to extend the area and offer a practical pathway through or around your plantings. Plan your garden landscape so that each planting receives the recommended amount of sun and/or shade to maximize plant growth.
Deer Resistant Plants
Homeowners who live near open space, the foothills, or in the mountains all share the frustration of deer eating their gardens. Homeowners aren’t the only ones who are exasperated by this: Landscapers and gardeners find it disheartening as well. Finding deer resistant plants proves to be a daunting task. There are some deer resistant plants that tend to be left alone, but frequently changes depending upon factors such as location, rainfall, season, and maturity of the landscape.
While deer tend to enjoy certain plants and avoid others, there is no guarantee of being completely deer proof. Fortunately, there does seem to be some success with a fairly large plant palette in this region. The deer seem to avoid highly fragrant herbs such as Lavender, thorny plants such as Barberry, ornamental grasses, and several others.
Using a combination of deer management methods is recommended when the landscape is newly planted and at the beginning of the season when there isn’t much vegetation to choose from. The integration of deer resistant plants with scent repellents or fencing will be the best way to combat deer damage. Don’t give up hope; beautiful landscapes can flourish even in areas populated with deer.
Bulbs are a perfect choice for adding bursts of color in an area like Colorado Springs where sunshine is plentiful and spring moisture is almost always guaranteed! Planning for interest in all four seasons is not especially challenging with the wide variety of plants that are available: Nevertheless, it often gets overlooked. Each season has its own plant palette that thrives and draws attention to the landscape. In the early spring, when spring fever is at its peak, bulbs are one of the most effective ways to add an abundance of colors to the landscape.
They can either be planted in mass as a stunning eye catcher, or they can be planted in little pockets here and there, in order to add more subtle splashes of color throughout the landscape. Bulbs are versatile in that they can be used in a variety of garden styles. For example, crocuses and hyacinths can be used to enhance a more wild or natural garden, while tulips and irises can be used to enhance a more formal or cottage style garden.
Bulbs perform best in sunny areas so that they can store the food necessary for flowering the following year. However, a few species do well in the shade. Make sure that the leaves are not cut back immediately after blooming because this is how they store food. Instead, wait for the leaves to wither before cutting them. The best time to plant spring-blooming bulbs is in September.
Landscapes that encompass interest for all four seasons are the most satisfying. Each season has its own palette: Spring bulbs, summer flowers, fall foliage, and winter evergreens. Of course, evergreens and hardscape features such as boulders, patios, and fire pits are beautiful all year round. Fall is perhaps the best season because it has the most interest available to it. It’s in the fall that a landscape reaches its climax before going dormant for the winter.
In autumn, flowers are still blooming, ornamental grasses are at their peak, and evergreens are still green. Of course, the most spectacular of all the elements during the fall is the turning of the leaves. It’s important to take advantage of all the possibilities available during this season to make the most impact.
There are numerous flowers that bloom from the summer into the fall such as mums and coreopsis. Ornamental grasses are an important part of a fall landscape because they add a variety of texture, height, and color. The leaves of trees and shrubs turn from shades of green to varying shades of red, purple, yellow, orange, and bronze. The colors of the foliage can be used to reflect or enhance the surrounding colors of the house, hardscape, and mountainous backdrop of the Colorado Rockies. This is the season when all of the features of the landscape come together and are displayed for all to see.