Trees for Sustainable Landscaping
Whether you’re going full xeriscape or just trying to optimize your landscape’s sustainability, don’t overlook your trees and shrubs. Matching their soil and nutrient needs to their surroundings will keep them healthy and minimize the things you need to do to keep them that way.
What Makes a Landscape "Sustainable?"
Definitions can vary in the details, but common to all is the idea that the landscape is in balance with the local climate and requires minimal resources to keep it attractive and healthy. That includes efficient water use, little need for fertilizers and pesticides, and easy maintenance.
Start with a Good Design
A landscape doesn’t have to look like the Eastern Plains to be sustainable. While xeriscaping precludes lush lawns and water-hungry plants, a well-designed landscape can be both rich and sustainable, even if it needs irrigation and amended soils. Colorado is full of micro climates, and they can exist even on a single property, so choose a layout that takes things like sun, wind, and frost exposure into consideration. Then choose trees, plants and grasses that are suited to those areas.
Group Plants with Similar Appetites
Grasses, flowers, trees, and vegetables all have specific nutritional needs. The moisture and soil composition for a garden or lawn may not be right for certain types of trees and shrubs. Before choosing a tree, see if it’s suited for the conditions it will be planted in. Separate beds and irrigation zones can help ensure that plants and trees will be good neighbors.
Plants and grasses native to Colorado have evolved to thrive in our climate. That means they tolerate the extremes of temperature and moisture our state is famous for. It also means that watering and fertilizing needs can be minimal, reducing the use of water and chemicals.
If you want a lush lawn, exotic trees or a rich garden, there will be trade-offs. To minimize impact, use organic composts and mulches and plan an irrigation system that’s optimized for your layout. It will cut down on both the time and money needed to give the results you want.
Take Advantage of Local Resources
Many local nurseries and garden centers have knowledgeable staffs that can help you decide on the best landscaping choices for your individual needs. Colorado State University has several educational resources for Colorado-specific landscaping, too. These include fact sheets covering Colorado Gardening Challenges for Newcomers, and Creative Xeriscaping in Colorado. They also have information on the best Large Deciduous Trees and Evergreens for your Colorado landscape.
Use your early spring downtime wisely and you’ll be ready with great ideas to increase the sustainability of your landscape and the resources you need to put them into action.
If you need a helping hand, Donovan Arborists offers a complete landscape maintenance package for property in the Denver area that includes care of trees, shrubs and turf. We’re happy to give free estimates to homeowners and property managers for any services they may need.