Emptying your grass catcher can be a hot, messy job in the heat of summer. Save yourself the work and improve your landscape in the process by grasscycling. Leaving your grass clippings on the lawn helps return nutrients to the soil and reduce evaporation from the soil.
If you’ve got a mulching mower, you’re ready to grasscycle. Be sure the blades are sharpened, and your mower will cut your grass into lengths that are perfect for leaving on the lawn.
If you’ve left your lawn a little too long and fear the clippings would be too heavy, you can still skip the bag by using your grass clippings as mulch in your vegetable garden. Just like other mulches, the clippings help hold in moisture and keep weeds at bay. Then, be sure to schedule mowing so that you aren’t cutting more than 1/3 of the lawn’s total length. That will leave you with just enough grass to leave on the lawn and reap the benefits of grasscycling.
Worried that clippings will make your lawn look messy? Be patient. It may take a few hours, but the clippings will settle into the soil to decompose. If you can’t wait that long, you can gently rake the clippings to spread them and help them settle more quickly.
Water-efficient sprinklers, smart controllers, and low-maintenance plants help you conserve water and save time on maintaining your landscape. Using less water can save you money, too, after the initial investment. You may also be eligible for rebates to offset that initial investment as well.
Contact your municipality or water provider to see what rebates are currently available. Some providers, like Aurora Water, offer rebates for converting to water-wise landscapes with low-water-use plants. Others, like Denver Water, offer rebates purchasing WaterSense-rated efficiency devices or high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles.
As drought continues in Western Colorado—the source of much of our water—now is the time to make changes to your landscape that conserve water. Rebates and grants can help subsidize those costs so that you start saving money sooner.
The Front Range is hot right now, and your plants might be feeling it a little too much. Here are a few tips for helping your landscape cope with high temperatures and sun.
The best defense is a good offense
The best way to help your plants survive Colorado’s altitude, intense sun, cold winters, and hot summers is to select plants that like to live here. If you are adding or replacing plants this year, look for low-water plants that work best in our conditions. Native plants are a great choice, and may even be better suited to withstand the temperature swings, hail, and other extreme weather events we see each year in the state.
Right plant, right place
The location of your plants is also important to consider. Any plants that face south or west and get a lot of sun will need more water. With containers, make sure they are in a good potting soil that retains moisture throughout the day.
Don’t worry too much
If your plants are wilting, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are dying. Plants will wilt either because they need moisture or because it’s their coping mechanism to conserve moisture during the heat of day. If you look at the same plant at night that was wilted during the day, it may be back to normal. Resist the urge to overwater. To know if the plant really needs water, check the soil with a screwdriver probe. If the soil is dry 2” into the soil, it needs water.
Mulch for moisture
Make sure you have wood mulch or even grass clippings on the soil to retain moisture—the added benefit is that this will help control weeds.
Make sure our plants don’t dry out while you’re on vacation
If you don’t already have a smart irrigation system, you can buy a timer to make sure your plants get the water they need while you’re gone. Drip irrigation is very useful for consistent moisture. Talk with a landscape professional about how to create a watering system that works for your landscape and can keep it properly watered while you’re away.
Smart technology can help you save money, conserve water, and keep your landscape looking great. As we kick off Smart Irrigation Month, we’ve got a tip for using technology to do just that: water slowly.
If water is applied too quickly, it can run off into the street or sidewalk instead of being absorbed into the soil and getting to the roots of your plants. Smart irrigation regulates pressure, ensuring water has a chance to soak into the ground.
Using a smart irrigation system with weather- and soil-moisture-based controllers allows your system to automatically adjust the watering schedule based on conditions at your location. That customization can go a long way to lowering your water bill and ensuring that your plants don’t get too much or too little water.
Turf serves an important purpose: it provides recreation areas for adults, kids, and pets alike. But native grasses bring a character all their own, with the added bonus of being low-water and low-maintenance once established. Ornamental grasses can also provide height, varying texture, movement, and year-round interest. Consider adding them to your landscape this year.
A few examples of Colorado native grasses for your consideration:
Blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis). Did you know that Colorado has an official state grass? It does, and it chose blue grama, a drought-tolerant prairie grass. You can choose to leave it unmown, or you can mow it at 3” or higher, but it can’t handle high foot traffic. Try planting it with native wildflowers for a beautiful, low-maintenance look.
Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides). Want to use native plants but still want turf-like grass? Buffalo grass requires an investment in establishing it, but once successful it is incredibly low-maintenance. As with blue grama, it’s not a good choice if your landscape sees a lot of use or traffic.
Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis). As the name suggests, this plant drops seeds that will support native birds. It grows to about two feet tall and turns a lovely orange color in the fall.
Grasses don’t need to be separated into a designated “grass garden.” Place grasses among other perennials where they can serve as a border, a backdrop or a vertical element among other plants. Create a grouping of three to five plants as you might with other perennials.
Avoid planting grasses late in the growing season as they tend not to do well with late-season planting. For best results, plant them before September 15 so they have sufficient time to get well established before winter sets in.
Consult a landscape professional to help you choose the right native grasses for your landscape’s microclimates.
Next week is Pollinator Week, when we celebrate all that the many types of pollinators—bees, butterflies, birds, bats, flies and more—do for us. It’s a good time to think of ways you can support your local pollinators. Remember that when it’s hot outside, pollinators get thirsty too.
Offer pollinators a sip of water
There are several ways to provide water for your pollinators, including:
Provide a shallow puddle for butterflies, which practice “puddling” in order to get nutrients from mud or rotting plant matter. Just a tiny spot will do, though you’ll need to replenish water as it evaporates. You can use a small saucer and add sand, a bit of compost, and water.
Create a bee watering station by filling a saucer or pie plate with rocks or marbles and adding water. Don’t entirely cover the rocks with water; bees will perch on the rocks and go to the water’s edge for a drink.
Put out a birdbath. A wide, shallow birdbath is best, especially for smaller birds.
Important:Don’t create large standing water in your landscape, which invites mosquitos. And whichever water source you put out, be sure to clean it and refill it. You may notice that the bees, birds, and other animals will learn where the water source is. They’ll come back when they get thirsty again, so make sure the water source is ready with clean, fresh water.