Lawn care

Planting Miniclover as a New Lawn Alternative

green cloverMiniclover could be the answer to questions on what works as a good bluegrass lawn alternative.

It’s worth a try.

The idea occurred to me when sent a small sample of Miniclover seeds (Trifolium repens) to members of the Garden Writers Association.

Miniclover is a perennial small-leaf clover that grows low to the ground.

Clover has few, if any, fertilizer needs, it uses less water than turfgrass, and there’s no required mowing.

If it grows thick enough there’s no need for pulling or killing weeds.

I asked Outsidepride for more free Miniclover seed to use for renovating a small backyard that needed help.

This yard, in southeastern Colorado, was in desperate need of something. A combination of drought, insect pests and neglect had turned the lush lawn into a weedy patch filled with my most-hated garden foe — crabgrass.

Start the Gardening Season with the New Edition of The Colorado Gardener’s Companion

Colo Gardener's Comp 2nd Ed Final Cover 72ppi blog The second edition of my first book is ready in time for gardening season!

I worked over the winter months to fill this new edition with more of everything to help Colorado gardeners grow great gardens starting now.

The Denver Post newspaper calls the new edition of my gardening book an “an essential manual” for gardeners.

What’s new in edition two?

The new edition features a colorful cover image of one of my flowerbeds from last summer.

That image, taken by John Pendleton, shows off some of the annuals and perennials that grow in one of the hottest, driest parts of my backyard.

In addition to a new look, there’s more of everything else, too! Since the first edition was published in 2007, a lot has changed in the wonderful world of gardening.

So I updated all of the information, included new technologies, expanded plant lists, added new resources and included about nine more inspiring gardens to visit.

Mountain Gardening Tips for Hardy Gardeners

One of these days it’s going to stop snowing so we can start gardening. If you’re a gardener in the Rocky Mountain region, you know how challenging gardening can be. After all, it was 60 degrees yesterday and 29 degrees today. That’s a shock to plants and gardeners alike.

Bee on sage close-upWhat gardener couldn’t use a little help this season?

Here are some of my top tips for Mountain Region gardeners from my Creative Ideas Team blog.

Easy Gardening Tips for how to:

    Beat annoying aphids
    Recycle grass clippings
    Plant containers on the cheap

5 Tips for Personalizing your Garden:

    Plant something new
    Let plants be plants
    Plant a kitchen garden
    Think small
    Replant a hanging basket

Regional Gardening Calender

45 timely tips for what to do in your garden, from March through December.

5 Bulbs for Spring Color

If your garden is lacking spring color, you need to make a list of these spring-blooming bulbs that are perfect for fall planting.

Gardening in a Drought

What if we had a drought and the lawn didn’t notice?

Green Lawn BlogIt’s time to rethink how to use water in the landscape.

Because of the continuing drought, gardeners in the Denver metro area will have twice-a-week lawn watering restrictions starting April 1–no fooling.

Along with these restrictions will be higher water bills for using more water on other parts of the landscape, too.

I remember the summer of 2002 and how difficult it was to keep the garden going with limited irrigation. It was fortunate I had already removed a good deal of lawn the summer before, replacing with low-water perennial flowers, shrubs and bulbs.

I’ve dusted off some of the water conservation tactics I used the last time we had Stage 2 drought restrictions and plan to rely on them again this summer. Here are some of my top tips for gardening in a drought:

Lawn Watering

How to Grow a Zombie Garden for Halloween

Don’t worry about the Zombie Apocalypse–it’s already here!

Zombies are everywhere these days, even on your kitchen counter. Here’s how you can grow your own zombie garden for Halloween.

The Zombie Grassland kit includes everything you need to grow real grass and stage a miniature zombie scene.

Just fill the clear plastic base with one layer of sand followed by a layer of vermiculite. Add one cup of water to the vermiculite so it thoroughly moistens the entire surface.

Sprinkle the Creeping Bent grass seed evenly over the vermiculite, making sure the entire surface is covered. Place the clear lid over the box and wait 3-5 days for the grass seeds to germinate.

Once the grass is growing, arrange the zombie design stakes in the grassland to create the scary scene of your choice.

The Zombie Grassland, one of several grow-it-yourself kits, is available at Hot Topic retail stores or online from

Get Your Garden Ready for Fall

The garden that was so lush and green just a few weeks ago is starting to fade fast. Now’s the time to plan (and plant) ahead. Here are some ways to help your landscape and garden get ready for fall:

Lawn care…core aerate, overseed and fertilize.

Trees and shrubs…prune broken branches and keep watering through winter.

Vegetable Garden…clean up garden debris, turn soil in the garden, plant cool-season crops (like kale, other leafy greens, radishes, carrots, beets, parsnips, broccoli, cabbage).

Flower Garden…clip back spent flowers and diseased or damaged foliage, add mulch, plant chrysanthemums, asters and cool-season ornamental grasses, plant perennials (like Oriental Poppies).

Think Spring!…plant spring blooming bulbs of different varieties, sizes, colors and bloom times (like crocus, daffodil, tulips, grape hyacinths, miniature iris, Dutch Iris and ornamental onions).

Think Summer!…plant garlic before the ground freezes and mulch. Keep soil moist in the spring and harvest garlic in July.

Hot Weather Tips for Gardening

Today’s post is from Deb Courtner, a landscape designer, garden writer and speaker who creates low-maintenance landscapes for busy homeowners. She owns and operates Blossoms & Blueprints, LLC, a landscape design and consulting firm in Denver, Colo. She also shares this image of  “creative bindweed use.” Visit her blog for more helpful landscaping tips.

Sane Tips for Crazy Gardening Weather

Summertiiiiime and the livin’ is crazy . . . forest fires, Stage 1 drought, weeds galore, plants wilting left and right.

What’s a gardener to do?

These tips may help you cope with hot, dry weather:

Go long on grass. If you have Kentucky bluegrass, don’t mow your lawn any lower than 3 inches. Taller grass blades shade the soil and help conserve moisture. They also reduce weeds.

Six Tips for Organic Lawn Care

It’s time to take the safe lawns pledge.

That lush green lawn that looks so natural is kept that way unnaturally because of a diet of synthetic chemical fertilizers and toxic herbicides.

This year, instead of taking care of the lawn in the conventional way, gardeners should challenge themselves to use fewer chemicals in their landscapes and take an organic approach to lawn care. Instead of feeding the grass, ask “What can I do to feed the soil?”

Building healthy soil is the goal of an organic lawn. Synthetic chemical fertilizers may make the lawn look green and healthy, but chemicals don’t help the soil or feed the beneficial organisms that live there.

Here are six ways to get started on an organic lawn care program:

1. Loosen the soil. Core aerate your lawn at least once a year. Aeration is the mechanical process of pulling small cores of soil out of the ground. Opening up the soil surface allows water and important nutrients to move into the root zone. Core aerate with equipment that pulls plugs three or four inches deep on four-inch centers.

Saving Water While Gardening

Now’s the time to start planning for ways to conserve water in your garden.

The little green sprouts in my front yard are whispering to me that spring is on its way. So I’ve started thinking about how I’m going to be more water-wise while gardening this year.

One of the most sobering facts I learned during my master gardener training is that there will always be a drought somewhere in Colorado.

In 2002 that hard fact struck home as gardeners coped with one of the most severe droughts on record.

The outdoor watering restrictions implemented that summer made me consider every drop of water I used on the lawn in the flowerbeds and vegetable garden, too.

Many of my favorite landscape plants didn’t make it through that summer. Others simply disappeared over the equally dry winter.

But those plants that remained, like Rocky Mountain penstemon, were the hardiest of the hardy. And I plant more like them every year.

Win a Beginners Guide to Gardening

Are you a new gardener–or know someone who is? Here’s your chance to win a copy of the new book called “Beginner’s Illustrated Guide to Gardening” by Katie Elzer-Peters.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to read a fertilizer label, fix a problem in the lawn, plant a perennial or prune a tree? Are you new to the wonderful world of gardening and have lots of questions?

Then you need this new gardening guide.

“Beginner’s Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Techniques to Help You Get Started” offers how-to tips for dozens of gardening tasks. This is a great book for anyone who is just starting out and has questions about what to do in the landscape and how to to do.

Katie Elzer-Peters wrote this book to help any gardener who has gardening questions, especially first-time homeowners.

Cool Springs Press sent me an extra copy of Katie’s book to give away to someone who could use a comprehensive gardening guide.

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