Water Issues

An Herb a Day Keeps Mosquitoes Away

green leavesThe American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) wants you to know this is National Mosquito Control Awareness Week.

You are aware of mosquitoes, aren’t you?

That’s what I thought!

Mosquitoes are certainly annoying, but they can also spread West Nile virus. That’s why it’s important for gardeners to do all they can to control these insect pests.

“Over the last few years, the U.S. has had increased cases of mosquito-borne illnesses such as the West Nile Virus and other exotic diseases such as dengue fever and Chikungunya threaten our shores,” says AMCA Technical Advisor Joe Conlon. “To ensure the safety of family, friends and pets, it’s extremely important to make sure you’re taking the proper steps: first, reducing mosquito breeding through water management and source reduction, and second, reducing adult
mosquito populations.”

The AMCA says one of the easiest and most crucial thing to do is to remove any standing water around your property. Empty pots, tarps, tools and trash cans of any water that has collected as they are all breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

How to Transform a Landscape into a Xeriscape

frontyard xeriscapeAbout 16 years ago, after months of house hunting, the realtor stopped in front of a little ranch-style house and I instantly knew I was home. This one definitely had curb appeal and it spoke to me.

The house was shaded by a large ash tree on one side of the yard and a small maple on the other. The lawn was lush and emerald green. In my excitement I failed to notice the yard had no sprinkler system.

I might as well confess, I’m a really lazy gardener, so I had no idea the amount of hose-dragging that lawn would need in order to stay green.

This is Colorado after all. Despite the amount of snow that falls in the mountains each winter, the state’s average annual precipitation is only 17 inches. That means we almost qualify as a desert. But with average precipitation, and a little irrigation, our lawns can be just as rich and thick as any to the east.

Save Water with Container Gardening

container gardenGardeners in drought-stricken areas are wondering if they should plant a vegetable garden this season.

It’s a good question because research shows that up to 60 percent of household water is used outside.

And up to 40-50 percent of that water is wasted because of inefficient irrigation systems and methods.

I live in a part of the country that experiences cyclical droughts, so I’ve had plenty of time to rethink my outside water use.

I work hard to make sure every drop of water is put to good use, so my advice to gardeners struggling with that question is to go ahead and plant. But first come up with a plan for using less water in the garden.

One of the best ways I’ve found to save water is by planting in containers instead of an in-ground garden. I’ve found that container planting works in just about any small space garden, it’s more convenient, it saves gardening time, the containers are portable and they’re easier to maintain.

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.

Dry Gardens Need Watering Rocks

Have you ever wished for a simple solution for keeping gardens watered? Then Watering Rocks is for you.

Gardeners are always on the lookout for innovative solutions for ongoing gardening problems.

One of my top gardening issues is finding ways to get water to the plants in the dry corners of the garden without installing an irrigation system or adding a water connection in these out-of-the-way spots.

A portable watering system would be a perfect solution. Something that looked good in the garden, but would be able to handle watering chores during hot, dry summers.

Watering Rocks Box

Watering Rocks to the rescue.

I saw some of the first Watering Rocks at an industry trade show several years ago. That’s when I met Jim Whitis, a fellow gardener and inventor of this clever way to keep plants watered slowly over time. I immediately saw the potential for a simple, portable irrigation system that could be customized to fit any dry spot in the garden.

Hot Weather Help for Gardens

When the weather heats up, plants need extra help. My mantra? “Mulch like crazy.”

Leaves1A few summers ago, in the heat of a Colorado July, I had to to leave my garden to present a xeriscape program to a master gardener group in the southwestern part of the state.

I fretted about how to keep the vegetable garden in good shape while I was away. I didn’t want to hire a garden sitter and there wasn’t time to hook up an automatic irrigation system. So I decided to implement the cheapest and easiest plan possible. I mulched like crazy.

All the bags of dry (untreated) grass and leaves that I raked from the front yard would finally come in handy.

Before I left on my trip, I deeply watered the vegetable bed that was filled with tomato, pepper, and squash plants. Then I took the dried grass and leaves and heaved great bunches onto the garden.

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

Has it Really Been 4 Years?

Happy Fourth Anniversary to WesternGardeners.com!

Weird Veggie1 Carrie Fritz Love AppleIt was February 24, 2009, when I hit the “publish” button on my first gardening blog post.

I wrote a short post about the predicted drought conditions in the West, with the headline: Warmer, Drier Forecast is Daunting!

It seems like I could have written that headline yesterday, too.

Over the last four years I’ve written a lot about conserving water in our landscapes from planting water-wise flowers, trees and shrubs, to ways to use water more efficiently in the garden.

Those tips are even more relevant today.

Of the 449 posts I’ve written, I’ve been surprised by the one that’s been most popular: my simple recipe for Pickled Jalapeno Peppers. That one post continues to draw hundreds of gardeners looking for ways to use their home-grown jalapenos.

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.

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.

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