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How to Make a Low Maintenance Garden in Fort Collins & Surrounding Areas

In Fort Collins and Northern Colorado, gardens have always had a reputation for being hard work; requiring so much maintenance that there is very little free time left to actually sit in them and enjoy the surroundings. Nowadays, with advanced science and technology, we actually know far more about gardening than we ever did before. There are now so many varieties of plants to choose from – many of which have become more resistant to disease. With the right knowledge, you can have the perfect garden that will practically take care of itself and allow you more time to relax and enjoy landscaping in Fort Collins and the surrounding areas. 

As a landscaper, I’ve found the secret to having the perfect low-maintenance garden is careful planning and choosing the right plants. You must learn to avoid plants that require a lot of care such as, Roses, Bedding plants, vegetables and herbaceous perennials, as these all need maintaining in the form of deadheading, pruning, staking, continual watering during dry conditions and replanting. 

Firstly, before you do anything else, you must find out the type and condition of your soil. You must take samples from different locations in the garden and test them separately, not mix them together – you can buy soil-testing kits from your local garden center or have it tested professionally by a soil testing service. Once you have established this, you are then ready to start preparing the soil for landscaping.

gardener digging and planting trees in colorado

The beds should be thoroughly dug over and weeds, old roots, large stones and any other rubbish removed  – small stones can be left in as they assist with drainage. You can then dig in some compost, but do make sure it is suitable for the type of plants you are going to put in.

If you can afford it, installing a drip irrigation system would be a good idea, as this slowly delivers water directly to the plants’ roots through a tube containing small drippers. You could use an automatic sprinkler system, which is much cheaper, or a water timer, these will still save you watering time during hot weather.

Choose the Proper Plants

When starting to think about plants, find out which plants like shade, direct sun, partial shade, acidic soil etc and then choose and plant accordingly – remembering to plant large plants at the back of beds and small ones at the front. Spaces in between can then be filled with ground cover plants and bark chippings or wood chip mulch to help keep weeds at bay and seal in moisture.

Try to choose plants for each area that blend together in terms of leaf textures, berry colors, flower colors and so on. Think about flowering times and leaf color throughout the year – some can be especially striking during the autumn. 

When you are planting remember that it is a good idea to use small paths or stepping-stones to allow easy excess to plants at the rear of large beds – preventing you from treading on plants and compacting the soil.

You can select plants from several groups: Shrubs, conifers, grasses, bulbs and ground cover. You can choose varieties such as, Daisy Bush, Spotted Laurel, Fuschia, Zebra Grass, Feather Grass, Snowdrop, Crocus, Bugle and Hosta. Conifers can add year-round color and range from dwarf varieties to fast growing Leylandii.

You may also need to consider your lawn areas – if possible try to cut down on them.
If you have a front garden, you could consider landscaping it into a combination of plants and driveway and remove the grass altogether. Stone chippings can make a great driveway and can be used as part of your back garden landscape too. It is a cheaper option than paving and provides better drainage.

drip irrigation system installation in fort collins

Consider your Mower Choice

drip system irrigation for a garden in fort collins

If you do have lawns to tend to, investing in a mulching mower rather than a mower with a box can help to reduce lawn maintenance. As the mower goes over the grass, the grass clippings, along with any leaves, are left on the grass providing it with valuable nutrients.    

Many of us live in Loveland CO. or Fort Collins. That means, having a small backyard, rooftop garden, or even a balcony can still mean a fair amount of maintenance if you have plants in containers. Rather than continually having to plant annuals, you could use a variety of shrubs suitable for container planting – dwarf conifers work particularly well and can be enhanced by planting smaller plants around them. So, as long as you think carefully about making your garden work for you, hoeing, weeding and constant replanting should become a thing of the past. This then leaves you free to do what you should be doing – enjoying your garden! If you have any questions about Landscaping in Fort Collins, Loveland CO. or the surrounding areas give Backes Landscaping a call. We are glad to help!


  • Jim

    June 29, 2018 at 8:43 am Reply

    Imformative, thanks!

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