A drought-tolerant garden: step by step Email
Written by Tim Flanagan   
Monday, May 27, 2024 12:00 AM

Colorado Green NowLast fall, Sustainable Landscapes Colorado installed a drought-tolerant perennial garden in the Buell Mansion community in Cherry Hills Village. We removed the existing sod, saving on weekly mowing costs and watering. And we gave homeowners the “sleep, creep and leap” mantra. First season, plants will dig in. Second season, plants will stretch out. And by the third season, the Buell Mansion Sandy Lake Triangle should be spectacular for years to come. Once established, this garden will survive on rain and snow.

We chose flowering perennials for each season. Camassia and allium bulbs will offer a blue and purple sea of flowers as the snow begins to melt next spring. Native camassia bulbs should naturalize and fill in any gaps over the years. Next up, our favorite: the hardy, deep-rooted, pea-shaped leafed baptisia will bloom in pale purple, providing an early food source for native bees, honeybees and bumblebees. A matrix of beautiful prairie dropseed will support the flowering perennials and provide a tapestry of emerald green.

When summer arrives, the penstemon ‘Pike’s Peak’ and sunset hyssop will feed visiting hummingbirds. And by late summer, the yellows of rudbeckia and the pinks of echinacea will mingle with the black seedpods of the baptisia to create quite the prairie painting and winter food source. Meanwhile, the native shrubs will provide habitat and cover for the birds. As plantsman Roy Diblik points out, drought-tolerant gardens are “know maintenance.” We know the plants will enjoy living next to each other and will thrive with an annual haircut in March. They will also benefit from their own leaf litter instead of wood chip mulch.

Read full article in our Spring Colorado Green magazine issue.

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