Summer Tips

Growing sunflowers

GiantSunflower2012Sunflowers are not only an attractive flower, they also have rich history providing edible seed crops. Sunflowers do best when planted directly in the soil, after night temperatures warm to above 50 degrees. As their name suggests, need plenty of sunlight (minimum of 6 hours per day). They will also turn their flower heads to follow the sun from east to west.

For giant sunflowers, make sure to chose an area in the yard near a fence or support structure. Sunflowers tend to become very top-heavy as seeds develop, sometimes pulling themselves over (credit anna). Watering sunflowers deeply but infrequently encourages deep root development (which will also help them stand upright). Sunflowers can also be utilized for shade and structure for other vegetables in the garden.

In order to keep birds and squirrels from helping themselves to sunflower seeds, paper bags, nylon mesh or nets can be placed over the flower heads. The best bet is to plant a few extra for wildlife to enjoy, and you to enjoy watching them.

Sunflowers tend to attract aphids, which will feed on the plant and cause some stunting. Instead of using a pesticide, which can harm beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies, try spraying aphids off with a jet of water.

Add a splash to summer

Now that most of the planting has been done, summer blooms call us to linger in the garden a little longer. As you’re relaxing outdoors, it’s a great time to think structure and embellish your landscape.

Have a small, tucked away corner? Add a sturdy garden bench to linger and renew your perspective. Lead the way with our decorative stepping stones.

How about a hot, dry patio? Imagine the cooling effect of trickling water from a beautiful and unique patio fountain or a misting system that you can install in minutes and bring the temperature down by up to 20 degrees. The birds will appreciate it, too! You could also encourage more backyard birds with strategically placed bird baths.

Add height anywhere with a freestanding trellis, perfect for climbing clematis, or plant stand, a great way to feature a blooming annual patio pot!

Hardscape features add focal points and year-round interest. Spend some time on our patio and you’ll see!


Native shrubs for low maintenance

Our Colorado environment is home to some amazing native shrubs. Not only are these shrubs disease resistant and perfect for our native soil, they attract birds, butterflies and provide year-round interest.

Try adding to your landscape a sumac, Apache plume, serviceberry, rabbitbrush, fernbush, mountain mahogany or buffaloberry.

These shrubs have some very unique features, such as the curly, furry fruit of the mountain mahogony, reddish-orange berries of the buffaloberry or the white clusters of flowers of the serviceberry. After proper placement and establishment, these shrubs require little care.

You won’t find these shrubs outside the southwest region. Adding them to your landscape helps keep the area diversified and encourages the local ecosystem. They can be blended seamlessly with non-native plants, depending on the shrubs water and sun needs.

Ask for a tree and shrub representative to help find these native shrubs to match your landscape needs. We also offer many native trees and perennials, come out and see!

Caring for your lawn

285184-33811-57The recommended height for blue grass lawns is 2 ½”-3″. Mow frequently so that no more than 1/3 of the grass height is removed during a single mowing. With this program, you will be mowing every 4-5 days in the Spring and every 7-10 days in the Summer.

Keep ryegrass, fescue and wheatgrass to a height of 2 to 3 inches. Buffalo-grass and blue grama do best if grown longer, or not mowed at all.

Remember to keep lawn mower blades clean and sharp for the best cut. Dirty, dull blades cause rough edges, which will turn grass blade tops brown, and damage the overall  health of the lawn. Lawns bounce back better from mowing if irrigated afterward.

It is also recommended to use a mulching mower, that is one that leaves grass clippings on the lawn. This adds nutrients back to the soil, and helps the lawn retain moisture.


Yellowing leaves may mean iron deficiency

Do some of your plants look like they need a pick-me-up? Iron supplements can correct chlorotic plants. Symptoms include a general yellowing on all or just part of the plant, along with visibly green veins. Talk to one of our nursery professionals about the right iron product for your situation.

Water wisely this summer

As the weather turns warm and dry, now is a critical time to water efficiently. Outdoor water use accounts for about 55 percent of the residential water use in the Front Range urban area, most of which is used on turf, according to the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.

If you just planted a tree, shrub or perennial, plants will initially take more water to become established, especially in the heat of summer. After they have become established, make sure to adjust their irrigation cycle. A thick layer of mulch, in the form of wood chips, gravel or black plastic, will reduce the amount of water that is lost to evaporation. Make sure to water before or after the hottest parts of the day. Also, keep an eye on rainfall and adjust irrigation cycles accordingly.

The City of Fort Collins offers a free sprinkler audit to city utility customers through August, first come, first served.

Also check out more information offered by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Speaking of weeds….

Did something new pop up in your garden? Did you hope it was a volunteer? Keep a close eye on your garden for noxious weeds. Invasive, aggressively-spread weeds can take over after very little time.

Some of the worst Colorado noxious weeds are:  leafy spurge, spotted knapweed, diffuse knapweed, Russian knapweed, Canada thistle, musk thistle, Dalmatian toadflax, yellow toadflax, field bindweed and purple loosestrife.

For a list and photos of Colorado noxious weeds, visit:

Help attract beneficial bees and butterflies

Make your garden more hospitable to bees and butterflies!

  • Reduce the use of pesticides
  • Plant nectar-rich food that blooms through the summer
  • Provide a shallow water source and a flat rock
  • Leave a small patch of bare ground for bees to establish underground nests

Bees are most attracted to white, yellow, blue, pink and purple flowers. Try planting wild lilac, western and eastern redbud, flowering quince, cranesbill, lavender, catmint, rhododendron, rose and salvia.

Butterflies need a food source all summer long, so try: yarrow, hyssop, anemone, aster, bluebeard, tickseed, foxglove, coneflower, potentilla, bee balm, Russian sage, blackeyed Susan, pincushion flower, stonecrop, spirea, verbena, milkweed and butterfly bush.

Spotting a Fido-friendly lawn

One problem troubling dog owners is urination spots in the lawn. Grass will yellow and die, often ringed by lush, dark green grass.

The dead spots are caused by concentrated salt and ammonia in the urine, which has a similar effect of burning from over-fertilization. The myth that female dogs urine is more damaging is only partly correct, they just eliminate in one area, causing a concentrated spot.

Avoiding these spots can be a time-consuming process. Some dog owners follow dogs with hose, heavily irrigate the spot, train dogs to go in a gravel or out-of-the-way area, or go for walks (and make it a neighbor’s problem!)

Reviving spots can be quickly remedied by reseeding, or just leaving them to fill in on their own. 

Plant a kitchen herb garden

Whether indoors or out, a fresh culinary delight can be found in a kitchen herb garden. It’s easy to do, and a beautiful, edible addition to any garden, patio or windowsill.

First, find a container that provides plenty of room for your herbs roots and good drainage. Place a pottery shard or rock over the drainage hole to avoid soil loss when watering.

Chose a rich, light potting mix or amend your outdoor bed with a compost full of organic matter, such as peat moss. Since your herbs are going to be consumed, only use organic fertilizers or pesticides.

Choose herbs that you know and love to eat, but group according to water needs. Also factor in that some herbs like to spread, like mint, thyme and oregano, and should be planted in containers. Perennial woody herbs, such as rosemary, are best purchased as a plant, where as annual herbs, like cilantro, can be successfully started from seed.

Harvest herbs before they flower for the best taste. You can control flowering by pinching off flower buds.

Be sure to check out our August 11th Workshop on Microgreens for more culinary inspiration!