To Xeriscape or Not to Xeriscape...


To Xeriscape or Not to Xeriscape…


That is The Question.


If you have checked out the recent U.S. Drought Monitor the title could be summed up at a glance.  With several sources stating the California could be in the worst drought in 500 years it makes sense that xeriscaping is an answer to the question.  We have had water restrictions in Denver Metro for several years now as well.

 Now that we have got your attention with the doom and gloom here is the upside to xeriscaping.

 Eartheasy says:

  • Saves Water. For most of North America, over 50% of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns. Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50 - 75%. 
  • Less Maintenance. Aside from occasional pruning and weeding, maintenance is minimal. Watering requirements are low, and can be met with simple irrigation systems.
  • No Fertilizers or Pesticides. Using plants native to your area will eliminate the need for chemical supplements. Sufficient nutrients are provided by healthy organic soil.
  • Improves Property Value. A good Xeriscape can raise property values which more than offset the cost of installation. Protect your landscaping investment by drought-proofing it.
  • Pollution Free. Fossil fuel consumption from gas mowers is minimized or eliminated with minimal turf areas. Small turf areas can be maintained with a reel mower.
  • Provides Wildlife Habitat. Use of native plants, shrubs and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for local wildlife.

 Having spent time in Scottsdale, AZ and San Diego, CA recently, I can tell you that xeriscaping was aesthetically pleasing as well.  I enjoyed seeing all of the native trees, shrubs, flowers, and cacti. It was enjoyable to see the differences in the local vegetation and some that I didn’t recognize being a Colorado Native.





Don’t Forget the Trees!


Trees need love too…in the form of fertilizer.  Fertilizer is not food; however, it is more like minerals that should be added when the soil conditions call for it.  Fertilizer is not a cure all.  Choosing plants carelessly or not watering enough cannot be remedied by fertilizers.

Clemson University says “Keep these two points in mind: (1) Fertilizer is beneficial when it is needed; but (2) Use it in the right amount, at the right time, and in the right place.”

How do you know when you need them? First, you need them when they are young and developing a root structure.  It will help to fill them out so that they create the desired effect that the landscape architect intended…i.e. me at McMahon Landscape.  Secondly, when there are signs of stunted growth such as small leaves, light green or yellow leaves, or branches dying.

You should have an expert help to determine that the above things mentioned are not from other stressors such as insects or disease.

Lastly, the best time to fertilize your trees is in the spring before the leaves bud and in the fall after they become dormant.

Come Rain or Shine or....Snow

When can I start on my yard???


Yay!  The answer is now.   Now is the perfect time to fertilize your lawns and let Mother Nature help with the labor of feeding the soil without burning or over-fertilizing.   Colorado’s springtime is notorious for dumping large amounts of snow and the moisture will aid in the process of soaking the nutrients down into the soil and soon to be root structure.

I recommend a granular fertilizer for a few reasons. Reason number one is ease of application and it is harder to over fertilize. You can see where you have spread the granules. You may want to use an inexpensive fertilizer spreader that can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Reason number two is because depending on the brand, it may be slow release, timed release, or controlled release.   Timelines for these fertilizers can be between 1 and 9 months.  Less expensive farm grade granular fertilizers may take only 2-4 weeks.  You may also want to work the granular fertilizer into the soil in flower beds.  The fertilizer depends on temperature and moisture to release their nutrients.

Reason number three (and my personal favorite) is that they save money.   Liquid fertilizers may simply be washed away and into our water sources.  So while the granular at first glance appear to be more expensive, in the long run they actually save money and the environment.

Excited to Plant?

Be careful not to jump the gun!


In the last blog we spoke about the notorious spring snows that we have in Colorado.In the last week we have had 2 large snow storms with precipitation totals in the inches. While the snow can help with our fertilization, it can kill our perennials.You may want to leave them in the containers until you are sure that the weather will be cooperative, moving them in and out of doors in the morning and eve.This way you can enjoy them without wasting your hard earned cash.

On another note, it also makes a difference where you purchase said perennials…While it is enticing to see all of the beautiful plants that are at your large home and garden centers early in the year; that may not be your best choice for healthy plants with longevity.The home and garden centers marketing departments realize that you have been cooped up all winter, in need of flora, the feel of dirt, and your hands are itching to plant something. Just like Christmas shopping is pushed earlier in the season each year so is the marketing of the garden center.Remember...If you plant too soon, they have a repeat customer.