Author Topic: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?  (Read 4370 times)

mr sustainable

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best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« on: April 01, 2014, 04:55:27 PM »
Fellow Rocky Mountain Mustachians, I need help.  I'm trying to make my yard more sustainable, and hopefully minimize the long-term (20 year) costs while keeping it nice and useful.  Currently there is a 10' wide strip all around the house that is "rocked" (1-2" river rock).  I pulled most of the rock up to fix the drainage around the house.  I dislike rocks and don't want to put them back down.  But getting rid of all the rocks would cost me about $500-1000.  I sure as hell don't want more grass, needs too much water in an arid environment like Denver.  The rocks are maintenance free for about 3-5 years, then weeds start growing in them and it drives me and my wife nuts.  Plus rocks are annoying to walk on, cause me to twist my ankle about once a year.  I looked into ground covers that can handle regular foot traffic, but haven't found any for my situation (no irrigation next to house, mostly sunny).  I toyed with the idea of installing flagstone, scared of high up-front cost.  I like mulch and wood chips, when they decompose and weeds grow in it (~5 years) I could remove and replace easily; wood chips are free from arborists.  What to do? 

ps - I love to garden, have replaced about 100 sq ft of rock with raised garden beds (plus drip irrigation), my wife won't allow any more

Cassie

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2014, 05:13:18 PM »
We live in Nevada & the wind blows the wood chips away. We actually put in astro-turf which has greatly improved through the years and looks quite nice.

brewer12345

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2014, 05:21:39 PM »
I'd mulch.  If you don't want to deal with remulching and weeds, maybe look into the rubber mulch they make out of recycled tires.  If it does not blow away it pretty much lasts forever from what I understand.

Zamboni

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2014, 05:26:59 PM »
My Dad (same geographic area) xeroscaped his entire yard with periodically flowering plants.  It took a year or two to get established by now it looks great!  No irrigation needed.  If you need a path, though, I'd go with big flat rocks or the indescructible mulch recommended by brewer. 

MayDay

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2014, 07:32:53 PM »
When I think landscaping, I think plants.  But it sounds like you want a 10' border of something non-living (rocks, mulch, flagstone). 

My suggestion would be be to pick some kind of stone to use as the border, and fill all the rest in with dessert-friendly plants that will spread.  You will have to weed a good bit the first few years, but once the plants fill in they will choke out the weed and you will just need to weed once a year in the spring. 

Threshkin

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2014, 09:05:55 PM »
My gut reaction when I read the title was "Rocks" but then I saw in your post that you don't like rocks.......

Have you considered some of the native dry land plants?  You local extension office should be able to guve you plenty of ideas.  You should also swing by the Colorado Botanic Gardens in Denver.  They have some very nice dry land sections.  They may even change your mind about rocks!

Travis

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2014, 09:35:25 PM »
I found this on a quick search:

http://www.denverwater.org/Conservation/Xeriscape/

There are a handful of Colorado government sites out there promoting xeriscaping that should have advice and ideas.  I lived in Colorado Springs for a couple years so I don't know much about long term effects, but most of my neighbors who xeriscaped used combinations of woodchips, mulch, and stone borders to keep everything from blowing away.

horsepoor

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2014, 09:47:41 PM »
When I think landscaping, I think plants.  But it sounds like you want a 10' border of something non-living (rocks, mulch, flagstone). 

My suggestion would be be to pick some kind of stone to use as the border, and fill all the rest in with dessert-friendly plants that will spread.  You will have to weed a good bit the first few years, but once the plants fill in they will choke out the weed and you will just need to weed once a year in the spring.

I'm also unclear on what you're looking for.  Apparently something you can walk on a fair amount?  If that's the case, I'd consider taking out a few inches of topsoil and putting down a weed barrier and a couple inches of road mix and decomposed granite (something fine you won't twist an ankle on.  Or at least do a 4' wide path with that, and then have a no-walk area with some shrubs and landscaping gravel. 

I'm in the middle of xeriscaping our front yard, and used a smaller version of the landscaping gravel in certain areas - the fragements are about 1/2" so they settle in nicely around flagstones and so on, and don't roll underfoot they way larger stones do.  In fact, they pack pretty flat with a little bit of foot traffic.  I think something like that would work for you if you go whole hog and put in a few inches with a barrier underneath, and then maintain it so that plant material doesn't decompose on top and form soil for windblown seed to germinate in over the years.


Jamesqf

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2014, 10:53:48 PM »
Lots of stuff you can do.  Look up xeriscaping books, particularly by Lauren Springer (Ogden) - she's based in your area IIRC.  Also look at the High Country Gardens catalog

nawhite

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2014, 10:03:25 AM »
I don't know how it would look with the rest of your lot but if it isn't that much space, you could put in permeable pavers (patio/walkway with lots of gaps between the rocks filled with sand to allow water to sink through).

If you do decide to keep the rock, in the late winter you can put down this stuff called "Preen." It prevents the weed seeds from sprouting and is good for about a year. Absolutely terrible for the environment if it makes it into rivers though.

Also, if you're looking to get rid of the rock, I could probably take a truckload off your hands if it matched what I have already.


rescuedog

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2014, 10:19:21 AM »
I second High Country Gardens magazine at least for some design inspiration.  I have even purchased one of their preplanned gardens where they suggest how to lay it out. 

I've use rock, bark chips and chopped up wood pallets (uber cheap from the landfill) as filling over weedmats and pure plastic.  Rock seems to be the easiest/least maintenance, but a pain to get it in the yard.  I've done pea gravel and both river rock before.  River rock was better.  Pea gravel became a huge litter box for all the neighborhood cats.  I still got weeds anyway you look at it.

LisaCO

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Re: best long-term landscaping for Colorado's front range?
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2014, 02:18:20 PM »
We have mulch with low water shrubs around our house and red stone paths to the doors into the front and side of the house, and back yard garage.  We also have a red stone patio and deck by the sliding glass door in the back.  If you haven't looked at the CSU extension site already, they have a lot of xeric fact sheets and other info. 

http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Xeris/xeris1.htm

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/07228.html