Irrigation is a super important part of vegetable gardening, and in our arid area, we tend to pay even closer attention to it. A vegetable garden left to be watered by Mother Nature here is not much of an option (though efforts can be made to maximize the benefit of any rainfall). But the vegetable gardener is going to have to supply extra water, so let’s look at a few different irrigation possibilities for vegetable beds:
1) Handheld Hose-End Sprayer
2) Overhead Sprinkler
3) Soaker Hoses
4) Drip Irrigation (more…)


Dead green ash trees (July 2013)

All through our (usually) dry winters, we’ve been beating the drum to get people to winter water their turf AND their trees. With our ongoing drought and irrigation restrictions, we find ourselves in the surprising position of having to remind people to “summer water” their trees.

Most of the trees in our area have been introduced and can have a tough time thriving even when we are not in drought. After several consecutive years of drought, super late hard freezes this year, and watering restrictions, our trees are having a tougher time than ever surviving. Many trees that have been on the edge of survival for the past few years have finally died this year and others are very close (like those trees in the downtown medians with about a quarter of their normal leaf cover). (more…)

sprinklertimer.jpgAutomatic sprinkler systems can make irrigating our landscapes (especially lawns) much easier, and they can also help us water more intelligently. In our area, we are usually encouraged to water lawns early in the morning or late at night. This is simple with a sprinkler system timer that can be set for any time of the day or night. Consistent watering is also important, especially during drought (a.k.a. now), and the timer easily takes of care of making sure your lawn is watered when you are away on vacation. In a previous post, I described rain sensors that can be added to your system so that it won’t run during or immediately after a storm. You can even find sprinkler controllers that incorporate weather sensors that turn the system off during high winds and incorporate local ET data to set sprinkler zone times. (more…)

shovel_snow1.jpgShoveling snow is a kind, courteous thing you can do for the pedestrians and joggers in your neighborhood (thank you!!), but this week, I realized that there is another great reason to make the effort to shovel snow. Getting the snow off of hard surfaces and onto turf areas, dormant vegetable beds, and perennial beds makes really good sense in our arid (DRY!) climate.

We had a pretty decent wet, heavy snow a few days ago, a snow like I don’t remember having in a very long time. As I was enjoying some quality time with the snow shovel after that storm, I suddenly had the thought “I’m winter watering!” (more…)


Drought-stressed American Elm

I fear I’ve started to sound like a broken record these past few winters (“We’re having another DRY winter,” etc, etc). Yes, we’re having another very very dry winter, AND we’re having exceptionally warm temperatures. Usually I wait until early in January to send out a winter watering reminder, but this year, it feels really important to get the reminder out now. (I promise more on our current water situation will be coming soon.)

Local tree services are reporting big increases in calls about failing established trees and shrubs, including lilacs! Even I’ve never really worried too much about winter watering my established lilacs. I’m sure some of the problem stems from not-particularly-xeric plants that were not adequately watered the past few winters or during the summers (which have also been dry). But even drought-tolerant species need a minimal level moisture, and recently, they’ve been rather challenged to get it! So this is a bit of a wake-up call to not just focus on our new trees and shrubs when winter watering during these dry years. (Take a look at some of the downtown medians if you want to see what happens when we neglect big, established trees during drought.)

rainsensor1.jpgWell, that sure was one hot and dry summer! (Okay, that could be the opening line for nearly any post about any summer in the past few years.) But more importantly, this past hot and dry summer followed a very very dry winter in the high country. Which means for us gardeners and homeowners in the Pikes Peak area, the chance for watering restrictions is very high next year. So it’s a good time to introduce some tools that might help use water more wisely in your landscape. In this post, we’ll look at rain sensors for your sprinkler system. (more…)

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a presentation at the 2012 Peak to Prairie Landscape Symposium (“So You Think You Want to Convert Your Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn?”). I started off with a discussion of the precipitation and water situation in our area. People were especially interested in my chart with the precipitation for the Apr – Oct growing season (for lawns anyway) for each year over the past twenty years. I was hoping to send people home with the idea that we certainly cannot expect our “average” annual precipitation (approx 16″ with 12″ coming from rain) each year and that they needed to be more active in deciding how and when to water their yards and gardens. And of course, I wanted to nudge them to consider lower water using lawn options.

Precipitation is of HUGE interest to gardeners, and the following chart illustrates the challenge we are up against in our area. (more…)

xeri_winter.jpgWe are experiencing (yet) another dry winter here in the Pikes Peak area, and that means we get to participate in that unique western (or southwestern) gardening experience, winter watering.

When I first bought my house here, it never occurred to me to put out the sprinkler at any point between October and May. Hence, after our second winter in the house, we lost half of the backyard – the half that was never shaded by the garage or the trees. Since then, I’ve learned that many plants in our area need to be watered during dry spells in the winter.

Why Water in Winter?
Yes, our plants are mostly dormant over the winter, and so it can seem strange to water when they aren’t actively taking up and transpiring water. So why do we do it? Well, even though the tops of most of our plants are looking pretty dead right now, they still (hopefully) have live roots in the soil. Those roots aren’t taking up water, but if the soil around them is dry, the soil will slowly take moisture from the roots, drying them completely. So, when we winter water, we’re actually watering the soil! (more…)

Q: It’s winter. I can sit back, relax, and ignore my garden—right?

A: Not quite. The sky is bright blue, the sun is shining, the predicted high is well above freezing, and it’s been like that for months. Sounds like perfect weather—but not if you’re a plant. In fact, if you listen, you can hear their cry for water. Everything is so dry! Desiccating winds have drained the last vestiges of moisture from exposed leaves and branches, and even the so-called evergreens are shriveled. (more…)