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Posts Tagged ‘grass’

Taming your thirsty yard

by | July 11th, 2014

It was a wet winter for Colorado snowpack (as in 170% of normal), but that’s no reason to squander this precious resource. In our semi-arid climate, water-wise practices are a good habit to keep from year to year, especially as our population keeps growing.
Green wet grass with dew on a blades

Like everyone in Highlands Ranch, BackCountry residents are fortunate to have not one but two water supply sources—the South Platte River and a massive underground aquifer. By having the river as a secondary source, Highlands Ranch has been able to annually recharge its aquifer for more than 10 years. Centennial Water, provider to Highlands Ranch, offers these tips and restrictions to help us keep our water usage (and budgets) in check while maintaining a healthy lawn and robust aquifer.

  • Water only when your grass shows signs of needing water, such as when footprints remain after 30 minutes. Continually wet soils are deprived of oxygen, which is needed for proper root growth.
  • Adjust irrigation controllers weekly throughout the season and as the weather changes. Perform regular inspections of your sprinkler system, checking for leaks, broken heads, and efficient coverage.
  • Water in the late evening to early morning hours. No outdoor irrigation is allowed from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. from April 1 until Oct. 15. Hand-watering trees and shrubs is allowed anytime, if a hose is held and equipped with a shut-off device.
  • Washing cars is allowed anytime. However, a hose-end shut-off device must be used.
  • Wasteful water practices are prohibited. This includes allowing excess water to flow into gutters or neglecting to repair leaks. When needed, apply water using multiple short cycles to avoid water running across sidewalks and into the gutter.
  • Rain sensors are required on all non-residential irrigation systems.
  • Customers who install new landscaping or make major repairs may be eligible to receive an increased water budget and a daytime watering permit. Permits are available during April, May, September, and October. Permits may be approved only once per calendar year. Applications are available online at
  • About half of the water we use at home is applied to lawns and gardens. When landscaping, use plants in your yard that don’t need very much water and be sure cluster similar types of plants for efficiency. Learn more by watching this two-minute video, “Right Plants, Right Place” from Centennial Water.

What’s blooming at BackCountry. (Plus some tips for getting your own yard spring-ready.)

by | March 27th, 2014

After a long winter, is there anything more heartening than seeing bright yellow daffodils pop up? Even if they are immediately covered, per usual, by a Colorado spring snow?

Whether fleeting or lasting, beautiful flowers do wonders for everyone’s mood. And BackCountry’s abundantly planted common areas are sure to put an extra spring (sorry) in anyone’s step.

Tulip flowers
So if you visit BackCountry in March, what will you see? Definitely crocuses, those tiny, hardy purple flowers that are always the first to brave spring’s raging mood swings. Come back a little later (say, April and May) and you’ll see rivers of tulips—yellow, tan and red—all over Backcountry, numbering 500 to 1,000 bulbs per plot.

Nearing summer the perennials wake up, safe from straggler snowstorms. Like all BackCountry plantings, the community’s perennials are carefully chosen to live in harmony with our often-dry Colorado summers. They include native, water-wise choices such as blanketflower, coneflower, red yarrow, midnight blue salvia, Russian sage, and red-hot pokers. The wide variety adds rainbows of color and texture to the entire community, especially in common areas by the front gate, the Discovery House, Sundial House, pool and parks.

Paul Menningen, maintenance manager at BackCountry, explains why the community favors natural plantings over the traditional water-chugging gardens found in other developments. “You won’t find formal gardens with hydrangeas here. Our whole concept is trying to recreate nature. Sure, it’s a lot easier to just throw in a golf course, but this approach creates a really unique place to live.”

Beautiful native landscape at BackCountry in Highlands Ranch Coloraod

Between preserving nature (467 acres of open space and some 8,000 acres of adjacent wilderness beyond) and recreating natural landscapes, BackCountry serves as a daily reminder to residents of just how lucky we are to call Colorado home.

Paul’s Tips for Spring Landscape Care

With a bachelor’s of science degree in park management, and 30 years of property management under his belt, Paul knows a thing or two about maintaining a landscape. When asked for ideas on getting ready for spring, here’s what he shared:

  • Clean up old leaf matter in your garden beds and yard. Rot = mold. Not good.

  • Fluff up your matted grass with a rake, especially on the north, shady side where the snow lingers. Again, a mold deterrent.

  • Water your grass and, if your yard is more than a year old, aerate. (If it’s younger than a year, you’ll rip out the tender roots.)

  • Water your trees with a trickling hose. Here’s a simple way if you’re too busy to monitor the watering. Drill four or five ¼ inch holes in a 5-gallon plastic bucket. Put at the base of a tree. Fill the bucket with water. Walk away.

  • If you didn’t do it in the fall, prune your dormant plants. Depending on the type, prune it down to ground level or a few inches above.

  • April’s the perfect time to fertilize your beds and grass.

Stayin’ Alive

by | February 27th, 2014

A BackCountry primer to winter-proofing your landscape.

Thankfully, Colorado winters give us a nice, long break from weeding or mowing. But that doesn’t mean we get off scot-free in the landscape department.

Colorado winters can be a tough on non-indigenous plants — which is what we typically grow in our yards. Our climate’s whiplash changes in temperature can be especially harmful. As can our not-infrequent dry spells. For those of you who recently moved to our beautiful state, Colorado is considered a high plains desert area. So, because our landscaping choices (thankfully) venture far afield from hardy, but not-very-flashy natives like sagebrush and sandcherry, we need to provide a fair amount of care for them all year around.

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Watering plants

Winter watering is vital to the longevity of our plants. Keep in mind that it takes one foot of snow to give one inch of water to turf and plants. And much of the water that comes from snowmelt will never even make it to the soil in your yard. As it melts, it flows off of the landscape and downstream into our ponds, and then offsite. So it’s very important to properly water your grass and plants and to deep root water trees and shrubs during extended periods when we don’t get any snowfall. This is particularly critical when your landscaping is less than three years old. Remember the 1-2-3 rule for plant survival in Colorado:

  1. The first year is survival. Winter watering is very important during the first winter.
  2. The second year is establishment and root growth.
  3. The third year is when you will notice the most top growth.
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Tree trimming

February and March can be a great time to prune your deciduous trees. Without leaves in the way, it’s easier to see what you’re doing. There are few insects and disease spores to infest pruning cuts. And wounds close more rapidly when pruning is done just prior to the emergence of new shoots.

What should you prune? Cut off any crossing branches that might rub and cause bark damage. These scars allow for places for insects and disease to infect your trees. You should also look for branches broken by snow. Prune lower-hanging branches off now so they are not in your way when mowing next summer. If you have fruiting trees such as crabapples, it’s best to leave the trimming of these species to a professional. They often get a disease known as fire blight. If this disease is not identified and pruned off correctly, it can spread through the host tree and onto other trees. Learn the basics of tree pruning here.

bc feb blog-4 aspenvalley services

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Grass care

If your decorative grasses are looking a bit ragged due to high winds and snow, you can begin to cut them back also. A general rule is to take off two-thirds of the top growth. Also, if you have turf grass in the shady areas around your home, look for white or pink mildew on the blades of grass. This is called “snow mold,” which often happens when snow or leaves remain on the grass for long periods of time. Snow mold can cause unsightly dead patches in your lawn. Catch it early by cleaning off any leaf material and then rake the grass to fluff it and allow air to flow around the grass blades. When you mow for the first time in the spring, cut the grass short, bag your clippings, and dispose of them with your trash.

New to Colorado? The Colorado State University Extension (online and in-person at various county offices) is a truly amazing resource where you can find answers to all your burning questions about everything from choosing water-wise trees to growing tasty tomatoes during our challenging summers.

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