landscaping in Denver

dominoswrath(5 WI)December 12, 2011

Considering relocating to Denver, or the Denver area.

In looking at homes, looks like most outside the immediate city are completely absent of landscaping. I've also read Denver doesn't have much color in terms of the fall landscape, and acid loving plants (rhododendrons) are difficult to grow.

We have clay soil here in WI, but Denver area clay is so compact that even trees are difficult to establish, and on top of that most properties need to install an irrigation system due to the lack of rain.

I love landscaping. I can't imagine a home without year round interest of trees, shrubs, perennials.

What can I expect? We are looking at areas right outside the immediate area of Denver, either on the open plains (to the east) or in the Bailey area (SW of Denver), or other mountainous areas.

And I love hostas. Sheesh. Do I have to give up hostas too?????

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treebarb Z5 Denver


Welcome to RMG! We've had an explosion of building in the last decade followed by the rough economy, so yes there are many unlandscaped properties. Think of it as an opportunity!

Although we have a challenging climate there is plenty that grows here. I think you'll find it best to go with the soil you get instead of trying to amend it into something that will grow what you're used to. You'll be learning about many new plants. I'm posting a link to a tree recommendation list one of our posters here shared with us.
You'll need to cut and paste it.

I'd also go to the CSU (Colorado State University) extension yard and garden sites. They have lists of trees, shrubs and perennials that do well here.

Once you get settled, do a soil test. CSU can do that for you for $25 or $30 and it takes the guesswork out of plant selection. Also, remember to loosen the soil in planting holes wider than deep and plant high. I usually plant an inch or 2 above grade here to offset the clay. An irrigation system would be great, but many of use soaker hoses, too.

No, you do not have to give up hosta! I have 3, planted on the north side of the house in nearly full shade.

Thanks for checking in with us. We look forward to hearing about your plans!


    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 9:06AM
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dominoswrath(5 WI)

Thanks for the feedback.

I agree - go with the existing soil rather than try to change it into something it's not. My motto is if it doesn't grow here, it doesn't belong in my yard.

I add a layer of compost to my soil here each year and that's pretty much all I do in terms of soil amendment, and I'd rather not do anything more extensive than that.

I was *hoping* that these properties I was viewing were newer and that's why they weren't landscaped. You've eased my mind in that matter.

Are there resources on line where I can find where each community is in terms of the water restriction priorities during droughts?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 6:46PM
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david52 Zone 6

I'd also suggest getting on the mailing list for High Country Garden catalogues - Although there are others, this outfit gives a good idea of what will grow successfully and spectacularly in this dry climate, and much of their stuff is 'water wise' and won't cause problems with water restrictions etc.

Maybe, for the hostas, you might just want to take a picture and frame it over the mantle :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   December 13, 2011 at 11:15PM
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I live just south of metro Denver and have my entire front yard xeriscaped with flowering perennials and grasses - something is in bloom from April until October and the grasses have great winter interest. My water bills go up maybe 10% in the summer. I do have lawn and shrub/rose/perennial borders in the back.
In 8 years of living in this house we've never been on drought restrictions. The Denver Water Board did that in the metro area a few years ago, then raised rates when their revenue fell short...Ha!
Older areas will indeed have better greenery - we found a niche area that was developed in the mid-80s so there are piles of mature trees and shrubs around our neighborhood (this was a must - I told my husband I refused to live somewhere with crackerbox houses 3 feet apart and two-year-old trees).
Oh, and I do have a friend in the neighborhood who grows piles of gorgeous hosta...not my specialty, but hers are great.
Ask any questions you have, we're a friendly bunch and happy to share our knowledge and experience.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2011 at 9:36AM
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greywater is the way to go in denver.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2011 at 2:36AM
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