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As the leader in the Green Industry, we provide exceptional landscape services to quality-focused commercial property owners and managers in the Northern Colorado community. We work together as a friendly team who values integrity and provides open, honest communication in every aspect of our work. Everything we do is done to benefit our customers, employees, vendors and the community.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Water Strategies for April and into May

Recent heavy snows have gotten us off the hook for watering our lawns for awhile. 


Still, the growing season and watering restrictions are just around the corner. Here are early-season watering tips:

• You won't need to water until well into May, depending on the amount of precipitation in your area and the weather. Check plants that get a lot of sun and don't water until the soil starts to dry out. If a screwdriver inserts easily into the soil, don't water yet.

• Don't water just because you can - it's OK to skip your watering day. Spring is when the grass roots need to be trained to grow deep in search of water - over-watering only makes the roots lazy and less drought-hardy.

• Know what kinds of sprinkler heads you have on your system and set the timer to water accordingly.

With the weekend warm-up, this is a good time to get to know your sprinkler system better than ever. If you can only water twice a week, you need to make it count by knowing your water delivery system well.

In one minute of time, different kinds of sprinklers will put out different amounts of water. If you don't know the difference between one that quickly puts down 2-3 gallons a minute and the one that emits only a half gallon, you will over water and waste water. Or, you will under-water and stress your plants.

Know basic difference among these three common types of sprinklers before you set the timer.

Spray heads - emit the most water over one area in the shortest time. They spray one area continuously (they don't turn). In one minute, they emit 2-3 gallons of water and it all falls within one small area. Running
these heads too long will give the soil more water than it can drink in and you'll have water running down the street.


• Rotor heads - oscillate back and forth. Because they're constantly moving across the lawn, it takes more time to water the lawn thoroughly. This is why you need to set the timer to run longer in the areas with rotor heads.

• Drip emitters - not for lawns - but the most efficient way to water veggies, flowers, shrubs and trees. Small tubes on top of the soil emit water very slowly, but very efficiently because no water is lost in the wind and there's little evaporation. Areas watered with drip need a much longer operating time. In many areas, drip irrigation is exempt from the twice-per-week watering restriction for annual flowers and veggies. That's another plus for drip.

Cycle and soak is the best way to water

Rather than setting the timer to water each part of the landscape only one time on your designated day, water each area more than once, but for a shorter amount of time in each cycle. Scheduling multiples cycles, but with shorter times in each cycle, allows the water to settle into the soil and provides more thorough watering. That's an efficient use of water and it keeps more water in the soil where the plants can use it.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Monday, April 1, 2013

Are Water Restrictions in your Forecast?

How much should you water in April?


Statewide, the drought has property owners concerned about keeping their plants alive.
Already, watering restrictions along the lines of two watering days per week are the rule for many cities along the Front Range - stretching from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. In the mountains, watering is allowed three days per week in the Vail Valley, but that could change.

What does this mean for property owners?
For starters, remember that it's only April and we need to take one month at a time. How we handle watering restrictions in April is going to be different than in the heat of July. Getting your lawns and landscapes off to the right start is what you should do in April.

Don't water just because you can.
It's tempting to grab all the water you can when you can, but that's being a water hoarder. In April, especially, that strategy can do more harm than good if we get regular precip. Normally, April is cool and we usually get moisture.

If there's natural moisture, you probably won't need to water twice per week. Instead, do what's best for the lawn and if the soil is dry, give the lawn a good soak. Then skip watering the next 2 or 3 days you're allowed to water. Springtime is when we need to encourage grass roots to grow deep and that's exactly what soaking the soil with long intervals between watering does.

Frequent watering on the other hand, keeps roots near the top of the soil where they will dry out more quickly. In the heat of the summer, those shallow roots will be screaming for water they can't have and the lawn will show it.

Aerate the lawn.
After a spring rain or a good soak from the sprinkler on your watering day, aerate the lawn with a core aerating machine. Aeration is a best management practice and for good reason. The holes caused by aeration open up the soil so it can take in the moisture and nutrients that keep lawns healthy.

Control crabgrass.
CSU's experts recommends pre-emergent weed control for crabgrass this year because this is one weed that likes drier conditions. Apply the control the day before a day when you will water.

Love your trees.
Trees are your biggest landscape investment, so make them a priority. Trees cost more to buy and plant than any other plants in the landscape - and they actually increase in value over time. It's easy to replace some dead lawn, but you can't go to the nursery to buy a 30 ft maple tree if the one in your back yard dies. And it will take a long time to re-grow the thousands of dollars in property value that tree represents. Trees planted in the lawn areas will get water each time you water the lawn, but trees not in the turf will need supplemental water.



Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, March 8, 2013

Where is Mother Nature?

You can't fight Mother Nature, so adapt

We're in that tumultuous transition when Mother Nature has one of her feet still planted in winter and the other one trying to step into spring which arrives officially in just 12 days.

Brace yourself for her mood swings - like we'll see with the heavy snow storm predicted this weekend. Stand by to give your plants the TLC they need to sustain high winds and heavy snow and then, get ready to plant some pansies and head into the growing season. It's springtime in the Rockies!

Gear up for the snow storm

• Remember to get newspapers and toys off of sidewalks and drives so they don't clog the snow thrower.

• If you've been winter watering, make sure the hose is disconnected from the faucet.

• Get a broom handle ready and plan to shake snow gently off of trees a few times while the snow is still falling. The heavier the snow gets on the branches, the more likely they are to break.

• Remember to shake limbs gently starting from the bottom and moving up. If you start at the top, falling snow on lower branches adds more weight and can cause them to break.

• When you shovel or clear snow with a snow thrower, put the snow in the yard, not in the street. Your lawn will appreciate it more than the city's storm water system.

Be grateful

• That this storm will bring some much needed moisture for our plants and soil.

• That this storm is happening before trees have leafed out. Late spring snows, that drop snow onto tree leaves as well as branches, make branches even more susceptible to breaking.

Early spring reminders

• Early spring is an excellent time to prune non-flowering trees - especially if you can prune in a nice-weather window before those heavy snows may fall on leaf-laden trees. Because of the drought, many trees may be less "bendy" and more likely to snap and break. Pruning helps to protect against breakage.

• Remember the mulch. It can be applied at any time during the year but in a drought year with watering restrictions expected, it's a water-wise investment. In snowless winters, a layer of mulch several inches thick helps retain soil moisture. Applying an organic compost as mulch is also a good soil amendment for the spring.

• The ideal mulch does not compact readily or hinder water and air movement into the soil. It breaks down slowly and is not a fire hazard. Adding mulch is also No. 6 in the 7 Principles of Xeriscape.

Photo courtesy David Winger Landscape Photography 
Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, December 14, 2012

Easy Winter Decor

Use containers for seasonal flair  

Containers work even in the winter

Even though you can't be growing petunias and pansies this time of year, that doesn't mean all your outdoor containers have to be packed away until spring.

Containers bring a bright spot amidst the cold, dormant landscape of winter. Fill them with plants and other natural materials as the seasons change to keep a focal point of interest going.

Here are some tips for keeping porch containers working through the winter.

Less is more. During the winter, there is less competition in the outdoors to draw the eye, so use less for more impact. If you normally have 3 pots flanking each side of your door, scale back to onlyone or two. Or make two large containers and minimize the amount of materials in the other four.

Thriller, filler, spiller still applies. Even though the materials may be different in winter, use the same formula used to combine plants in the growing season. Use a tall element like dogwood branches for thriller, rounded items like dried pods, cones or flowers for filler and a cascading component like evergreens for spiller.

Plan an easy transition from "holiday" to "winter" décor. Many elements like evergreens and pine cones used for holiday décor in December transition well into simple winter interest for the months ahead. By removing red bows or glass balls that say, "Merry Christmas," the rest of the container can keep the seasonal interest going until it's time to plant pansies.

Take a sustainable look at your landscape. Many of the components for winter containers might already be in your yard. Create your own scavenger hunt and look for:

Create your own scavenger hunt and look for:

• Berries such as red cotoneaster, blue/green juniper and orange pyracantha
• Cones from evergreen trees and shrubs
• Seed pods and dried plants like yarrow, hydrangea or Echinacea
• Colorful deciduous branches that can be cut such as red-twig dogwood or others with an interesting shape like sumac
• Evergreen branches from trees and shrubs or the lowest branches that came off the Christmas tree when you put it in the stand

If you still need a few more items, the local garden center can supply the rest.

Take time to create your own look that says "winter" and to appreciate the scaled-back ambiance of the winter scape. Sometimes we have to look a littler harder this time of year, but Mother Nature has truly given us much to see and enjoy outdoors.



Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, October 5, 2012

Freeze Protection Tips for your Yard

Freeze protection tips for your yard

Both plants and sprinkler systems are vulnerable to freeze damage.


With Front Range temps hitting 27 degrees tonight and even lower on Saturday/Sunday, it's critical to protect both plants and the sprinkler system.

Plants

Whether plants survive at around 27 degrees is questionable because several factors apply: the exact temp the thermometer hits in your yard, the type of plants, how well they are protected by buildings and other shelter, and the material you use to cover them. All of these factors play into a plant's survival below 32 degrees.

If you love your plants, it's worth making the effort to get them through the next two nights so you can enjoy them through Indian summer.

What you can do

Cover annuals and veggies overnight - but avoid using plastic as it does not insulate.

Use fabric - such as a towel, sheet, blanket as a covering.

Leave some air space below the cover so the plants can breathe.

To minimize losses, harvest un-ripened tomatoes, peppers, etc., and bring them indoors. Green tomatoes will continue to turn color after they are inside.

Sprinkler system


Backflow prevention device

Be strategic and protect the most expensive part in your sprinkler system: the backflow prevention device.

This part is required on all systems because it keeps the water that's in your sprinkler system from backing into the domestic water inside the house. It's also the most vulnerable part of your system if there is a freeze. Find it outside the home and usually, next to the foundation.

There are 2 small parts on this device that can freeze:

The bonnet and poppet assembly. If it freezes, it will blow apart and water will run until it's shut off. The flooding can cause serious property damage and lead to a $100 or more repair bill.

The valve. A broken valve is another problem and another $100 or so in repairs.

How to protect the backflow device from freeze damage:

Turn the valve handle at a 45 degree angle.

Wrap the device with a towel to provide insulation.

To keep moisture out, cover the whole device with a plastic bag that you secure with duct tape around the bottom.

If you have not yet scheduled having your sprinkler system winterized by blowing out the lines with compressed air, schedule your service appointment soon.

Need help getting your yard ready for winter? Find a Pro from among ALCC's members in six chapters statewide.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Ready to pick pumpkins

Hot summer speeds ripening    
The record-breaking days of hot summer this year have kept gardens going strong and even put harvesting of some plants ahead of schedule. 


If you aren't quite sure of which veggies can be harvested now, here is information to help you evaluate ripeness and whether the veggie is ready to pick:

• Melons - can be picked when the fruit separates easily from the vine and the skin is hard. The tendril closest to the fruit will be withered.
• Asparagus - cut the stalks at the ground when they reach 6 to 9 inches tall.
• Beans - when the inner seeds start to bulge slightly through the pod, beans are ready to pick.
• Carrots - when you pull away the soil at the top of the root, the root should be about 1 inch in diameter.
• Potatoes - can be harvested when most of the vines are dead.
• Onions - are ready to harvest when about half of the leaves have dried out and fall over. Dig onions up slightly, but leave them in the soil for about one more week.
• Summer squash - will be most flavorful if picked when the squash measure about 6 to 8 inches long. Monitor squash each day as they grow quickly.
• Tomatillos - have been ripe and pick-able already. But if you're new to this Southwestern plant, notice how a tiny fruit matures inside the thin, lantern-like husk. When the fruit is as large as the husk, it's ready to pick.

For the best flavor, harvest veggies in the cooler hours of the morning or evening.

Harvesting pumpkins and winter squash
Due to high temps this summer, many gardeners have seen pumpkins and winter squash ripening ahead of schedule. If this is the case in your garden, you might consider harvesting these veggies soon.

Mildew on the pumpkin and squash leaves is common now. It doesn't necessarily hurt the fruit, but it does diminish the quality of plant life and its ability to get more nutrients to the fruit and keep it growing. In almost every case, the mildew will kill the vines prior to frost. As the leaves die back, there will be less camouflage to keep pumpkins and squash out of the eye of hungry squirrels and other wildlife who also might like to share in your harvest.

When picking pumpkins and winter squash:

• Cut the stems at least 2 inches long (even longer is good) and avoid carrying the fruit by the stem as a broken stem can cause the fruit to deteriorate.
• If the stem does break, cover the stem scar on the fruit with melted paraffin to seal the wound and keep bacteria out.
• Keep pumpkins and squash indoors to harden off. Pumpkins should be fine through Halloween and beyond. Winter squash can last well into the winter months if kept cool and dry.




Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, August 17, 2012

Losin' the love for petunias?

August is the in-between month


As we get into August, many of us are starting to lose our love of petunias and the other early annuals. We'd like to see something fresh, but it's too early for mums and fall color.
Don't despair. As we move through August, the days get noticeably shorter and the longer nights will cool down. That is why this month can also be the beginning of a second spring in many gardens. Plants that languished during the days of intense heat will rejuvenate and some spring-blooming perennials may even bloom again.

The best news is that many perennials come to their height of beauty in August. They are the solution to the in-between month. Plus, the growing conditions as August cools down are prime to get these plants established before fall.

Here are some great perennials to plant in August:

Agastaches (pronounced: ah-GAS-ta key) or hyssops:  Native to the southwest, many species and selections bloom from July to October in an array of pinks, purples, orange, red and lavender. Consider these three varieties:

• Sonoran Sunset® has bright violet flower spikes and grows 15-18" tall and 12-15" wide

• Sunset hyssop has narrow grey leaves and pink flowers with purple bracts growing 20-30" tall and 18-24" wide.

• Coronado® is an orange selection, and Coronado® Red will be covered with small red blossoms. Both grow about 2-3' tall and 2' wide.

Bridge's penstemon (Penstemon rostriflorus): While most penstemon bloom in early summer, this western native with scarlet-orange flowers is at its peak in mid -summer and perfectly timed for migrating hummingbirds.

Orange Carpet® Hummingbird trumpet (Zauschneria) is another hummingbird magnet but grows spreading and low to the ground: 5-8" tall by 1-2" wide.

Little Trudy® catmint is a small version of the traditional blue-flowering catmint, but blooms all summer long and stays under a foot tall.

Salvias are another group of plants that thrive in our hot, intensely sunny days and cool nights. Look for the Salvia greggii selections, such as Wild Thing (magenta) and Furman's Red bloom which perform best as the nights cool, continuing late into September if conditions are right. Both grow 18-24" tall and 15-18" wide.

And add the texture of native ornamental grasses to the mix. Western and southwestern native grasses require little water once established and are well-adapted to our local conditions. Try these two grasses :

• Giant Sacaton: a large (5-6' tall by 4-5' wide), architectural specimen grass for low-water and native plantings. Give it several deep drinks of water during the heat of summer you'll be rewareded with a lush, full, plant with lacy golden flowers.

• Blonde Ambition blue grama grass: an airy, unique ornamental form of our native blue grama growing 2-3' tall and 18-24" wide, the chartreuse seed heads "float" high above the grassy green foliage. Mix it in with salvias and agastaches for an informal look, as specimen plants, or in rows for even more dramatic effect.

Use the softness of silver foliaged plants to add cooling interest. During the heat of summer, plants such as silver sage, Silverheels horehound, and filigree daisy help make gardens and landscapes comfortable and soothing, even in the hottest of days.

All these Plant Select® winners grow well in a wide range of conditions, but most prefer well-drained soils and low to moderate moisture.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Are you growing perennials?

Why perennials are a great and sustainable landscape bargain



Have you thought about why perennials are absolutely great for Colorado gardens? Unlike annuals such as petunias, you buy them once and plant them once, and enjoy them for many seasons to come. That's a great bargain. Planting low-water varieties, ups the sustainability factor, too.

How perennials are different from annuals

We love annuals for their instant color and because they bloom all summer long, but perennials are also stunning. Here are some things to consider:

• Most perennials bloom for only part of the growing season, though some bloom longer than others.

• To keep ongoing color in your yard, select plants with staged bloom times so that as one plant stops blooming, another one starts. Tulips bloom early in the spring, iris and peonies are soon to follow and later, daisies will bloom.

• To have the right variety of plants that will keep the color going all season long, work with a landscape designer.

• Perennials require patience their first year because they get off to a slow start while getting used to their new digs.

• It's temping to plant them close together for bigger impact--but better if you space them so they have room to grow over time.

• After two or three growing seasons, many will be big enough to divide. That's another bargain--two or three plants for the price of one!

When you think of perennials, consider using Plant Select plants that have been developed specifically for the often irritable growing conditions facing Colorado gardeners. Here are five to consider.
Fuhrman's red salvia - Grows 18-24" tall, 12-24" wide; has right red blooms from June to October. Grows well in full sun and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.


Coronado red hyssop - Grows 15-18" tall, 12-15" wide and has spikes of tiny red blooms that are most prolific July to September. Good in full sun and attracts bees and butterflies.


Turkish Veronica - Groundcover grows 1-2" tall, 15-18" wide; has blue flowers in May and June. Grows in full sun to partial shade. Use between stepping stones or instead of lawn in small areas.


Shadow Mountain® penstemon - Grows 18-24" tall, 15-18" wide in sunny conditions. Has lavender-blue flowers that bloom from throughout summer. Adapts well to wide range of gardens.


Blonde Ambition blue grama grass - Grows 30-36" tall, 20-26" wide in full sun to partial shade. This ornamental grass has large, showy seed heads that are great in cut arrangements.


 




Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, February 10, 2012

Gardening in the snow?

5 things to do now for your garden

  Seed packets
  All the Valentine flowers make us yearn for spring - but our yards are still bleak.

If the gardener in you just needs to get outside do something, here are five things you can do now to get your garden ready for spring.

1. Compost. If you didn't work compost into the soil last fall, throw fresh compost over the garden - even if it's snow covered. It will settle over the soil and you can work it in right before planting.

2. Get going on seed. You can plant cool season crops as soon as the ground can be tilled (March, April). So have your seed ready. Find a local garden center from the link at the right or order seed online or from catalogs.

3. Select your crops. Carrots, spinach, lettuce, beets, green onions, radishes, pak choi and peas are veggies to plant soon.

4. Plan what grows where. Rotating veggie placement each year is a good practice in order to avoid insects and diseases that can overwinter in the soil and attack specific veggies. They are more threatening if debris was not cleaned out of the garden last the fall. Tomatoes and corn are crops to move to a new place each year.

5. Before planting, rototill or hand till the ground to work in the compost bepore planting.

Want to really jump start the garden? After working the soil, place black plastic over it. This will warm up the soil and give 2-3 weeks head start on growing. Pinch holes in the plastic to plant seeds. The plastic can be left as mulch during the growing season.

And if your sweat heart is a gardener, tuck some seed packets into your Valentine card!



Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Monday, January 23, 2012

What's screaming in your yard?


Even in the winter, plants need TLC

In the winter landscape, we don't see a lot going on in our yards that reminds us to think about the plants.

In the summertime, long grass screams out to us when we need to mow it and in the fall, the leaves obviously need to be raked. In the winter, there's just not much that says "take care of me!" Yet, even in the dormant months, there are a few things we need to check in order to keep our plants healthy.

What's out of place?

Ornamental grasses

Ornamental grass damaged
Grass with snow damage.

Most people prefer to leave dried ornamental grasses standing in the garden for winter interest. Their shape and swaying plumes add seasonal interest. With the heavy snows this year, however, many of these grasses in unprotected locations have been smashed into unattractive mounds from the snow load.

These broken and bent grasses won't bounce back to their upright shape, so they should be cut back. For a neater look, avoid cutting grasses straight across with every stalk at the same height. Instead, cut grasses below where they are bent and broken at different heights to create a more rounded shape among the stalks.

If grasses are still standing tall, leave them until spring. Make a note to self that last year's growth will need to be removed prior to this year's fresh growth emerging.
 
Shrub care
Many herbaceous shrubs have weak wood and long, pliable branches that make them susceptible to wind and snow damage. Examples include Russian sage, golden elder, sumac, pussy willow, blue mist spirea and dark night spirea.

Any branch that has been broken by the weather - and this includes trees - should be pruned back. Those rips and breaks are an open invitation to pests and disease of all kinds. Protect these plants with timely pruning as a little maintenance now can save more work and treatment costs later.

Upright evergreens
Upright evergreens and shrub forms of arbor vitae often splay open from the snow. While it's best to bundle these shrubs before the snow flies, they can still be pulled back together after the fact.

Garden centers have netting and other materials to wrap around evergreens to keep hold them in their natural, upright position. Remember to remove the material in the summer once the plant starts to grow and re-establish its natural form. Binding materials, if not removed, can girdle the plant and eventually kill it.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Help Plants Beat the Heat with Mulch


Hot weather can be as hard on plants as it is on people.

Staying hydrated is as critical to our plants as it is to us. Of course, we don't want to use any more water than is necessary in the process. That's why adding mulch to beds is one of the best ways to help plants stay perky in the heat.

Adding mulch is a sustainable step that is scientifically proven to save water. In everyday terms, a layer of mulch helps plants retain moisture in the root zone and it slows evaporation.

And there are other benefits. Mulch helps to control weeds. When you buy locally produced mulch products, you're upping the sustainability factor even more.

What are the options?
To select the best mulch for your property, consider a variety of factors. Do you have dogs? Do you live in a windy area? Do you want the lowest maintenance option for the long term--or the most "green" option available? Property conditions and personal preferences will determine the best mulch for your situation.

Here are a variety of mulch options and some of the pros and cons of each:

• Grass clippings are one of the most sustainable mulches available because you recycle them right back into the property where they grew. With a mulching lawn mower, clippings stay on the lawn and that really helps hold in moisture. When clippings decompose, they also add nutrients that are good for the grass. If you don't have a mulching mower, rake or bag the clippings and put them around veggies. You'll be amazed how grass mulch helps hold in moisture--and also how it controls weeds!

• Rock is the most durable mulch and it won't blow away. It's excellent for rock gardens. On the down side, it heats up and consequently, is not as effective as other options to moderate conditions around plants. If you have a dog that likes to chew rocks, the small river rock variety is not a good choice. Use larger cobble that's about the size of a baked potato.

• Bark chip mulch is cooler than rock but does have to be replaced every year or two depending on the size of the chips. This mulch may not the most "green" choice unless you get a locally recycled product. It can blow away in high wind areas.

• Gorilla hair is a woven, textured product that is great for high wind areas and it will also decompose over time. The down side is that it's difficult to clean and may need to be flipped over to keep a neat appearance.

• Aspen fines not only offer a well-dressed look around plants, but they are a local, recycled product. Because they break down quickly, they need to be replaced often.

• Dyed mulch can be among the least desirable of all the mulches because of its bright color and the dyes that make it less "green" than other choices. If you like the color, ask how the mulch has been dyed. Mulches dyed with clay-based paints won't be harmful to the environment. Colors can fade in Colorado's intense sun.

• Soil Pep is dark, black garden mulch that offers an attractive and elegant look around annuals and perennials. Because it is comprised of organic material, it is similar to compost but not as fine textured. It is top choice of many gardeners because, like compost, it helps improve soil quality. This product is not as long-lasting as other mulches; it needs to be replaced at least once a year to maintain its characteristic elegant look.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, July 8, 2011

Were your sprinklers running in the rain?


Sprinklers in the rain = money down the drain
Yesterday's downpour along the Front Range is a good reminder to all of us with sprinkler systems that we need that "gizmo" to keep them from watering during or right after a deluge.

This gizmo could be a variety of quick add-ons to your sprinkler system. These devices either shut off the system right after a big rain or constantly monitor weather and/or moisture data to tell the sprinkler system to run only when it needs to.

Whichever gizmo you choose, you won't get caught with sprinklers throwing water on top of already soaked grass. And the money you save in water costs will also help cover the cost of the device. Plus, there may even be rebates from your water district to recoup more of your costs.

Sprinkler gizmos that save water
Moisture sensor/rain shut-off devices
There are many products from very simple to more high-tech varieties--but they are all designed to keep the sprinklers from running when there is adequate moisture in the ground. These devices pay for themselves in a short time. Even the most basic, but still effective device, can be purchased and installed for less than $100.

Timers that take charge
The timer or controller that is programmed to tell your sprinkler system when to operate is the most critical water management device on your sprinkler system.

The most basic sprinkler timers rely on the property owner to tell them when to run and when not to run. If we are off in our timing--or don't make seasonal adjustments throughout the growing season--it will just keep doing what we told it to do and the lawn may suffer the consequences. The lawn's water needs when we set the timer in May are much different than they are in the heat of July.

To manage your lawn and your water effectively, think about replacing a traditional timer with a more sophisticated and high-tech one. These devices can really manage your system for you--and they are affordable.

Watering timers like Smart Controllers and ET Controllers take over whether you are at home or away. Depending on the model, they can monitor local weather data, use historical weather data and/or relate to real-time conditions in your own yard to determine whether your sprinkler should run--or not.

There are many good models available and one of them could be just what you need in your yard. Collectively, they offer us a very sustainable option that helps conserve water for the good of the community while helping to cut our individual water use and costs.


Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Friday, May 6, 2011

Give mom black petunias for Mother's Day?

This year, give mom a new twist on Garden Favorites!
You can never go wrong with traditional containers with pink and white or red and white flowers to delight mom on Mother's Day. But this year, you could step beyond the conventional container.






Finally . . . basic black is in with flowers!

It's taken awhile for growers to develop the black petunia, but this year you can find them at retailers. If mom has a flair for drama, she might appreciate the Black-tie Combo available at many garden centers. You can create your own combo, too, using just black and white petunias. Or add some red or yellow petunias for a bright spot of color.

Did you know you can now grow impatiens in the sun?
Also new in 2011 is the sun-patiens. Unlike the impatiens plants we've enjoyed for years on shaded porches and patios, this one grows in the sun! If mom has a south or west-facing porch or patio, now she can enjoy a container of impatiens that won't die of sunstroke.

What's else is new in outdoor color? Everything!
Trendy décor finally moved beyond forest green, so there are now many colors in outdoor furnishings. Think about matching a patio planter to mom's color scheme.

Take a lesson from the monochromatic, pre-made hanging baskets, like Purple Cleopatra now at garden centers, that give bold one-color accents. This one features purple vein petunias combined with verbena and calibrachoa in other shades of purple. Your mom's fave may not be purple, but you get the idea. Working around one color is easy to do.

Adding accents of white flowers, like white geraniums and petunias, as well as green foliage will bring different interest to a one-color pot or basket.

Think practical, too
  • If mom loves to cook, give her a container or two with herbs and veggies.
  • If she's a tea drinker, plant some tasty mint in a teapot for a fun gift that also lets her pick and brew her own fresh tea. Besides traditional flavors of spearmint or peppermint, other flavor sensations can be found in orange mint and even chocolate mint. Not only is mint good tea, it's also a great garnish for fruit.
  • Balance out showy containers with some down-to-earth useful items. Tuck a new trowel, package of fertilizer, gardening gloves or some seed packets among the plants.
  • Or get even more practical with the gift of help for her yard. Provide a service for pruning her plants, creating a raised veggie garden or mowing the lawn all season.
In the realm of growing and giving, there are many lovely and useful options.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Got The Scoop On Your Dirt?

Good soil and good seeds make a garden grow

 Experienced gardeners know that the quality of veggies you get out of the ground is directly related to what you put in it.
Use seed tape for uniform spacing.

Everything that happens down in that dirt is what makes plants grow--or not! So starting from the ground up, get the real scoop on your soil--and then the seeds.

Check your dirt
If you don't know the kind of soil you have, your growing efforts may not bring the best results. Having low organic matter in the range of less than 1 per cent is typical in Colorado. So to get soil to the desired range of 3 to 5 per cent organic matter, you will most likely need to amend the soil.

Before adding amendments, however, get a soil test to learn what you really need to add. A soil test (available from Colorado State University for much less than $50) gives important information about the PH of the soil, salt content, amount of organic matter and the content of several minerals like nitrogen.

The CSU soil test kit tells how to submit your soil sample. Results arrive in a few weeks and you don't have to be a scientist to understand them. When you know what your soil needs, you can go about adding it.

Sort out the seeds
Planting old seeds that don't germinate can cost you two to three weeks of outdoor growing time before you know the seeds have failed and you need to replant. That's time you don't want to lose in Colorado's growing season. Check expiration dates on seed bags from past seasons and toss expired seeds.

Can you use seeds harvested from last year's garden? The next generation of seeds from hybridized plants is generally less reliable than the fresh seeds you can buy. Also, as plants cross-pollinate with other garden plants, the mixed-up results land in the seeds--and the next season's plants. Consequently, this year's veggies may look a lot different than last year's.

Seed planting tips
Plant seeds in garden rows that run east to west. The east/west orientation gives the sunniest advantage for your crop and more even plant growth.


Use seed tape to speed up planting and get uniform spacing. You can find these seeds in bags similar to loose seeds at garden centers. Seeds come pre-attached to a paper tape so all you have to do is run the tape down the row and cover it with soil. Within a few days, the tape disintegrates and the seeds germinate.


Plant seeds for your early season crop of cool season veggies--like spinach, lettuce, carrots--before the end of April.

Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Heading out this weekend?

Weather this week reminds us that we're at the jumping off point for another glorious season outdoors. We're deciding what to plant-more veggies, splashier annuals, more perennials for longer lived color.


Before we get busy and just go plant something, we need to pull back. Think big picture.

What do you want your landscape, your balcony, your front porch, your patio, your curb appeal to do for YOU? Where does your landscape meet your life and how can you make it better?

If your outdoor space is where you want to live (or want to live more) in the warm months, do everything you can to make it friendly for you, your family, your guests.

  • Do you need an expanded lawn area for little soccer players to kick the ball around?
  • Has the dog worn trails across the grass that need to be remedied?
  • Would an outdoor food prep area make entertaining easier?
  • If you added some color and greenery to your patio, would that draw you outdoors more?
  • Could a real fire pit create a gathering place for the teenagers you'd like to keep closer to home?
Answering these questions is all about having a plan and in the landscaping world, we call that plan a landscape design. The design relates to how we want to live in our landscape in a very pragmatic way. It incorporates the details that make the pet happy, cater to the kids, create privacy and drive the outdoor ambiance we want to enjoy.

On the practical side, a new design can be a problem-solver. Creating the big picture perspective for your space (even a very small one) will also point out problem areas that could be solved. Screening off the AC unit or solving a drainage problem by the downspouts isn't as much fun as adding a fire pit. But solving those problems along the way will help your state of mind and safeguard your property.

This weekend, if you're out planting carrot seeds or pushing petunias into pots, get a fresh take on how you want your landscape to meet up with your life.




Tip of the Week reprinted courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) of which Foothills Landscape Maintenance, LLC is a member. ALCC is the only only professional organization for Colorado's landscape contracting industry statewide. Tip of the Week is copyrighted by Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and may be forwarded or copied by its members provided proper credit is given to ALCC