Since 2011 Mountain Roots has been practicing Sustainable methods in our landscape and business models. With the continued evidence of climate change – increasing temperatures and drought conditions – it is imperative that we all make small changes for future generations. Alternative transportation, using reusable bags, and investing in renewable energy are often stressed on a personal level. What does a Sustainable business in the landscape industry really promote, and how can you change your own habits when gardening?
1. Choose low-water plants that prefer our growing conditions. Check out Plant Select for recommendations in Colorado. Read plant labels when shopping and look for low water options.
2. Amend soil with locally made compost which enhances soil health, conserves water, and promotes healthy plants.
3. Give trees, shrubs, and perennials longer soaks, less often, promoting deeper roots. Allow plants to dry out in between drinks, which will help with pests and diseases and acclimate plants to feeling dry. Most water restrictions allow for 3 days of watering a week.
4. Make a rain barrel! It is now legal in Colorado to catch rain water and use differently on your property. I prefer using it for my trees and shrubs.
Mix Perennials into your containers
- Perennials and grasses are a great addition to container plants providing various textures, shapes and colors. Add a few annuals for color to support your perennials.
- Perennials require less water, fertilizers, and resources.
- Stick to the Thriller, Filler and Spiller method mixing a tall focal plant, a filler with mounding and supportive growth, and a cascading or spilling plant.
- I have had success with perennials overwintering in containers and returning next season, or you can transplant into your garden in the Fall for next year.
Decrease turf areas and add more perennial beds
- Create smaller turf and grass areas for children and pets.
- Turf areas take the most water in the landscape and maintenance with mowing and trimming.
- Incorporate more low water trees, shrubs, and perennials for Spring, Summer, and Fall interest. The investment may be more up front, put over time your plants will require less care, water and maintenance saving you money for the long term.
- Include paths, patios and other hardscapes.
- Eagle County is offering a rebate program for decreasing turf areas. More information can be found at : Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.
Incorporate Edibles into the landscape
- Add a small vegetable garden to supplement your family’s food intake.
- Grow short season, cold loving plants that like our climate including lettuces, spinach, kale, snap peas, beets, carrots, radishes, small variety tomatoes, and more.
- Don’t have the space? Think about joining a local Community Garden which provide a great environment for learning and growing your green thumbs.
There are many small steps we can take at home and in our gardens and landscape for the future. Here are a few additional tips:
- One of the biggest contributors to carbon in the atmosphere and waste in the landfill is food scraps. By participating in a local food composting program, you are eliminating landfill waste while producing food for our local landscapes and gardens. Check out High Country Conservation Center or Compost options for Eagle County
- Organic and natural fertilizers derived from plants and animals are more beneficial, while synthetic fertilizers like Miracle Grow are typically bye products of the petroleum industry and can damage microorganism and weaken long term soil health.
- Try manual weed control, removing noxious seed heads, or a home remedy before reaching for Round-Up. There is plenty of evidence against using these chemicals for the long term health of our landscapes.
- Think locally and try to support local businesses, suppliers, and growers. Small nurseries are stocked with plants specifically for our environment, while big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes sell plants not specific for our area.
- Give it another chance! Check out garage sales, Craigslist, and thrift stores. Refurbish a piece of furniture or plant an arrangement in a cute, old prop from a household item .
It can be overwhelming when thinking about making big changes and living a 100% pure and sustainable lifestyle. Start with small changes and modify your existing routines. The reality is that our kids and grandkids might not be able enjoy the same mountain activities that we love. Wildfire danger is imminent and already devastating communities. Ski resorts around the world are suffering from a lack of snow cover and the community that enjoys these activities needs to step up. If you haven’t already, check out the documentary titled “Save the Snow.”
Pablo Picasso said, “Some painters turn the sun into a yellow spot; other painters turn a yellow spot into the sun.” By all of us making some small changes, we can make this wonderful region even better for years to come.