Rocky Mountains

January, 2004
Regional Report

Plan the Garden

With the approach of a new garden year, now is the time to resolve to become better acquainted with Rocky Mountain gardening. The vagaries of weather and alkaline soils can make gardening an unending challenge, but with the right planning and proper selection of plants, you can grow successful lawns and gardens.

Cover Exposed Plants with Evergreen Boughs

Many gardeners and newcomers to the area are worried that their plants will suffer in the severe cold. The recent cold snap should pose few problems for landscape plants if they were properly acclimated for the onset of cold temperatures. The light snows that follow will serve as good insulation, protecting perennials and supplying some winter moisture. If some plants need more protection, cover them with evergreen boughs leftover from holiday decorations or from your Christmas tree.

Recycle the Christmas Tree

Salvage Christmas trees from a fate at the landfill or before they become fish habitat in some lake. Use the whole tree to provide a protective windbreak for a flower bed, or cut branches from trees to lay over the plants. If you live in a windy area, cover the branches with some kind of netting that is secured with pegs or stones to keep the evergreen boughs from blowing away.

Set Up Deterrents Against Deer

For mountain dwellers or any of you bothered by deer visiting your landscape, here's an idea: Protect evergreens from deer damage by driving a sturdy post in areas next to susceptible evergreens and then nailing crossbars on the post. This will provide a place where deer will rub off their horns, instead of using your spruce or pine. Nylon bird netting also can be draped over trees and shrubs to act as a deterrent.

Try Alternatives to Aspen Trees

Instead of planting aspen trees on the side of the house near down spouts this year, consider the Western Bog birch (Betula pumila). So often the discharge of rainwater and melting snow will stunt or kill plants placed there. The Bog birch will thrive on the extra water and complement the landscape setting. This is a smaller landscape plant that will grow to a height of 12 to 15 feet. It has attractive golden leaves in autumn.

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