Colorado Gardening for Beginners: Essentials for Your New Garden Checklist

There’s nothing quite like planning, preparing, and planting a garden and watching it come to life in beautiful, glorious color. While gardening in Colorado has many challenges, when it is successful, it offers an even greater feeling of pride when your garden comes alive!

Whether you are planning beautiful beds, looking to cultivate a particular plant species, or you’re determined to have vegetables this summer, gardening in Colorado takes a good deal of learning and patience to reap the best results. Our arid climate, changing temperatures, poor soil, high winds, and wildlife all try to conspire against gardeners requiring us to be even more resilient to achieve success!

With a few essentials to consider as you set out, you’ll soon have a good idea of what will work best in your yard and you’ll be on your way:

Site Selection

Take time to evaluate your yard to understand the many different growing environments that are possible. What areas are exposed to the strong, Colorado sun? Where are the pockets of shade? Are there spaces that would benefit from extra irrigation? If you have children or animals, where will they want to run and play? If there are already landscape beds or older plantings in place, are they thriving or dying? What kinds of trees do you have in the garden?

Understanding your garden’s natural state will help you plan where plantings might go, if a vegetable garden is possible, whether a xeric area is needed, and much more. Map out the garden ahead of time and identify these unique characteristics to help you plan.

Going Native

As you think about the kinds of plants and flowers you will add to your Colorado garden, expect to have better success by choosing plants that are native to the area or mountainous, higher elevation regions. Colorado has a natural selection of beautiful, colorful flowers and perennial plants that will love your garden!

In addition to colorful flowers, consider many of Colorado’s native grasses and shrubs that are adapted to our unique environment. Landscaping and gardening with native plants mean they are more likely to survive year-after-year to help you cultivate a mature garden that only gets better over time. The Colorado Native Plant Society offers a helpful reference list of suggested native plants to consider.

Irrigation Matters

Because of Colorado’s higher elevation, the sun is even stronger than in other states. This direct, hot sunshine, coupled with low humidity, means you should consider the irrigation needs of your new garden. Consider whether you are willing to hand water, sometimes more than once a day in the summer for new plantings, or if you’d prefer the convenience of automatic irrigation.

Professionally-installed irrigation systems can save you money and time by watering on a schedule that avoids evaporation and gives plants deep soaking for best results.

Raise Things Up

If you are unable to find a good site in your garden to grow a particular type of plant you desire or create an abundant vegetable garden, think about raised beds! Gardening using raised beds solves many problems as irrigation can be easier, soil can be amended, and it’s easier to work, plant, and weed.

Raised beds offer the opportunity to garden earlier, as the soil heats up sooner, and garden later into the season as you can more easily protect your garden. Using untreated lumber as the frame, you can also make your garden as large or small as you like or have more than one for different types of plants. In addition to using raised beds as part of a landscape project, building a raised bed for vegetables offers so many advantages over trying to get bountiful crops from the Colorado ground.

Even though Colorado gardening can be a challenge for beginners, it’s worth the effort! With so many days of sunshine and natural moisture from winter snowfalls, you can create a garden that is healthy year-round and produces the brilliance you are looking for knowing “you did it!”

If you’re interested in professional landscaping and outstanding beauty in your garden, contact us! We offer more than 20 years of experience creating lush, successful gardens and landscapes throughout Denver metro area and can help you create the Colorado garden of your dreams!