By Melissa Leavenworth
April showers bring May flowers, along with plenty of other opportunities for gardens and landscapes. There are plenty of outdoor projects for beginners and veterans alike that the Fort Collins Nursery can help you start this May. While the last freeze typically hits Northern Colorado around Mothers Day, you shouldn’t be deterred from pursuing the following projects.
Now is a great time to amend garden soil with compost and prep for new plants that will make their way into your garden this season. Compost can benefit veggies, perennials and annuals alike. If your compost includes food waste, be sure it is only plant-based food material, as animal products such as meat and dairy can spread pathogens, including salmonella and listeria. If you are cleaning dead plants from your landscape and shredding them for compost, be sure you’ve given perennials a fair chance at coming back for the season; some plants may take some extra time to come back given Northern Colorado’s climate conditions. Additionally, it is not advised to add any plants to compost piles that had fungal or disease issues, as these pathogens can persist in the compost and reinfect new plants.
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to cut back existing perennials. Again, some perennials take longer to wake up, so give them that extra time to wake up before removing them from the garden. May is a great time to plant new perennials, giving them plenty of time to get roots established before winter. Be sure to select a variety of different perennials that will bloom at different times throughout spring and summer to ensure a changing and colorful landscape all season long. Plant Select is a fantastic source for hardy plants for the intense Northern Colorado climate, and Fort Collins Nursery is the largest provider of Plant Select plants in the region.
Wait until the last frost to hit to plant outdoor veggies. On average, the last frost in Northern Colorado lands around May 15th. Beginning gardeners will do well with peppers and zucchinis. Spinach and kale are also great options for planting in mid-May, as are root vegetables like carrots, potatoes and fennel. If you’re itching to start planting veggies before mid-May, you can start some from seed indoors and then move them outside after the last frost, or plant them early and protect them from frost with any number of different protection methods, including row cover or Hot Kaps. Hardy Boy Plants is one of our favorite go-tos for veggies.
For colorful blooms from spring through fall, nothing performs better than annuals. There is no need to wait until mid-May to get annuals in the ground if you choose frost-hardy annuals for early spring planting. One inexpensive way of protecting annuals from spring frost and wind is by laying frost cloth. Annuals can also be planted in pots and planters to liven up outdoor decks and patios, which gives you the opportunity to pull plants into the garage in case of inclement weather.
Revamp Your Landscape
Now is the perfect time to plan out landscape revamps and overhauls. Northern Colorado is the perfect location for drought-hardy landscapes. Plants that do well with low water and can tolerate intense dry heat include many Colorado natives, such as Penstemon, Mountain Mahogany, and Apache Plume. As an added benefit, most native plants will thrive with less maintenance. There are many beautiful ground covers that add extra color and brightness to low-water landscape, including creeping phlox, ice plant, and many different kinds of sedum. Hyssops also make a lovely and fragrant addition to dry sunny areas, and are extremely attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds!.
For more information on outdoor projects, visit us in-person at the Fort Collins Nursery or online at https://fortcollinsnursery.com/.
Originally published on May 7th, 2019.