Friday, April 12, 2019


by Sharon Faircloth
We have all been told that adding landscaping can significantly increase the value of our properties.  A beautiful environment contributes to our overall well-being and it’s one of the reasons we live where we live.  Landscaping can be very daunting.  It seems the more natural you want it, the more complicated and expensive it can become.  Whether you want to enhance a problem area, attract wildlife or make it look like you live in a field of wildflowers, all it takes is some planning!  One consideration is to hire a professional to work with you on your vision, budget and timeline.  Another is to do all or parts of it yourself.

There are literally a zillion ideas on doing your own landscaping.   Use the internet for ideas but stay on the 'edu' sites for science-based information on everything else.  To create your vision, begin by taking photos of your site.   Consider what you have vs. what you want.  What can be changed by adding rocks, landscaping timbers or water features, and what do you have to work around driveways, rock outcroppings, slopes, mailboxes?  Look at the big picture.  How does the sunlight move across your property?   Do you have soil issues?  Micro-climates? Gaps where nothing much grows? Perhaps you’d like a little more privacy? Use your photos to observe and then draw out the area to scale.  Even if you’re not an artist or an engineer, it doesn’t have to be perfect.  You just need to have a good sense of space to begin the next phase.
Courtesy CMG Garden Notes
 #411 Water Wise Lands

Consider what you see in the winter time.  Would you like to incorporate more visual interest throughout the year?  A special area to attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies near your kitchen window?  Do you want an area where the flowers are all one color? How can colors be combined for the maximum impact and continuous blooming?  Consider form and texture and what can be added to enhance what you already have or create a whole new area.  Perhaps a new path to your entryway or a rock garden.  What about a challenging area where nothing much is growing? 

Building a rock garden and water feature 
Courtesy of Sharon Faircloth
Other major considerations are how much water you have available and how much time do you want to devote.  Picking the right plant for the right place, amending your soil if necessary, mulching and establishing new plants will improve your chances of success.  Breaking down your plan is a great idea.  Gardening can be hard work, not to mention expensive, so doing a bit at time is totally fine.  Making it a family project gives everyone a sense of ownership and pride!  Remember to keep a diary and note what worked and what didn’t and what you’d like to add or never do again.

The website has organized a wide variety of landscape design subjects for you, from choosing a landscape professional to design elements, the basics of building retaining walls, and conserving energy.  Go to the website, enter landscape design and you will find fact sheets and Planttalk ideas on these subjects, and many more.

Another great resource is the website.  Plant Select is a collaboration between Colorado State University, the Denver Botanical Gardens and local horticulturists.

Courtesy of Planttalk Colorado©
#1110 Using Color in Landscape
The group chooses to test plants for the Rocky Mountain region considering uniqueness, low water requirements, disease resistance, and habitat friendliness (although many of these are not suitable for higher elevations- check for hardiness).  Look for the PlantSelect© designation on plants at your local greenhouse.  Another great resource on their website are downloadable design ideas from professionals.  The designs provide scale, which you can adapt to your space.  You can also just use the designs for an idea of what plants go together and then you can research them for personal choice.

Take advantage of all the resources at your fingertips for landscape design and jump in! 

Photo courtesy of Sharon Faircloth, Vail, CO

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