The Denver, Colorado area has a beautiful climate with low humidity that surprises residents with relaxing warm days in the middle of winter. However, for Colorado gardeners, especially those new to the area, the varied climate creates specific issues. Taking time to prepare your home landscaping in the fall can prevent these problems and keep your garden looking good all year round.
Colorado’s Winter Weather
In our “mile high” climate, we have little precipitation, lots of sun, and dry, warm winters. According to Denver.org erratic temperatures are the norm during Colorado winters. The average daily high is 45 degrees but can go as high as 60 or as low as the teens. These temperature changes are the main thing that local gardeners need to prepare for. Though, there are many advantages to this weather. It does make for beautiful lawns. Our summer weather encourages growth and the quickly melting snow discourages common problems such as snow mold. The lower humidity also suppresses many plant diseases that thrive in more humid climates.
Watering After it Gets Cold
Believe it or not, Colorado gardeners still need to water their lawns, shrubs, and trees even in winter. Our dry climate means that thirsty trees and shrubs need extra care. This means that you may have to hand water if you have a sprinkler system and have turned it off for the year. If there has been no snow or rain for the past month, water in the morning on a day when the temperature is above freezing. The ground should not be hard frozen or it won’t absorb the water.
Good mulching will protect your landscaping plants from drying out in Denver’s winter winds. While organic mulches such as grass clippings, and wood chips look natural when integrated with your landscaping, they are not always practical for gardens in this area. Strong winds often blow lighter mulches away. Because of that, local gardeners have more success with gravel or stone mulches. But, rocks and stone retain heat, so if you have a hot sunny area this may dry out your plants. Otherwise, the advantages to organic mulch are that it does not blow away, it suppresses weeds and you don’t worry about replacing it each season.
Preparing Your Lawn
Late fall is a good time to apply lawn fertilizer to cool season grasses. This includes ryegrass, tall fescue or Kentucky bluegrass, which are common grasses used in Colorado lawns. Fertilizer helps the grass survive the winter better and promotes lush growth in the spring. Apply it when the grass is still green and the ground has not yet frozen, in October or November. If the bulk of your lawn includes warm season grasses such as Bermuda grass, Buffalograss or Blue Grama, you don’t need to fertilize in the winter at all. These grasses go dormant in the winter and do well in the hot summer, while the others do not.
Tree and Shrub Preparation
In the Colorado area, we often have wet snows in the spring and fall, which can damage trees and shrubs by weighing the limbs down and breaking them. This makes them more susceptible to insect damage and disease. After wet snow, go out and shake it off the tree limbs. Fertilizing is not crucial for all landscaping plants. Established trees do not need to be fertilized in the fall but younger trees could use the boost to survive the winter.
Despite its name, sunscald is a winter problem, and not a summer one. It is damage caused by the repeated freezing and thawing common to Colorado’s climate. Thin-barked trees such as birch, crabapple, and maple are most at risk, particularly when they are young. The bark can crack or warp, leaving the tree vulnerable to diseases and insects. To prevent this, wrap the tree trunk with burlap in October or November. Use tape to secure it and do not bind tightly with string as this could restrict the tree’s growth. Take the wrapping off in early spring as it can harbor damaging insects once the weather warms up.
Find More Ways to Prepare Your Denver Garden for Winter
If you are new to Colorado, you may be used in a different way to care for your landscape. But, cooperating with our unique climate will yield beautiful results. If you are interested in moving into a home in the Denver Metro Area, please contact us at Dyllan Real Estate. You can also follow #DenverDyllan on social media to view photos of the latest property listings and to find out about local amenities.