There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of planting and caring for your own garden.
And while the late spring storms, long days of sunshine, and high altitude can make gardening a little challenging in Colorado, with the right plants and a little know-how, you’ll be well on your way to an impressive garden.
Understanding Colorado Gardening
One of the most important things to understand about Colorado gardening is how our state’s unique climate affects your garden. Most of Colorado has a shorter growing season then places with warmer, lower altitude.
Be sure to consult the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map to figure out what zone you are planting in—Colorado falls into 9 different zones! This will help you pick the best plants and timing for your garden.
Colorado weather also presents a unique challenge to maintaining that prize-winning garden. Be prepared for unexpected cold spells during the growing season. Tools like row covers, hoop tunnels, shade cloth, and wind breaks can help you protect your garden against sudden and extreme weather.
Planting perennials will give you the most return on investment, with flowers that come back year after year. There are several varieties of perennials that fair very well in Colorado.
Try some fragrant Phenomenal Lavender for a lovely, hardy plant that smells divine. If you love poppies, the Spring Fever Mix loves sun, making it perfect for our sunshine heavy days. Corsican violets are a wild violet flower that will remind you of the mountains. Drought resistant Russian Sage is a gold standard in many home landscapes.
Planting annuals allows you the luxury of changing up your garden from year to year. Marigolds and zinnia are perfect options for Colorado’s higher altitude. Other great flowering annuals include dahlia, snapdragons, pansies, and petunias. The small, woody flowers of verbena are also a lovely touch to any garden. And, annual sunflowers do very well in Colorado, providing beauty and a bit of shade.
Growing a vegetable garden is a rewarding endeavor that pays dividends—in fresh food for your table! There are a number of vegetables that grow very well in Colorado.
If you are planning on planting your garden in early spring, you’ll want to focus on cool weather vegetables. This includes underground growers like carrots, turnips, and beets, as well as leafy greens like spinach, cabbage, and kale. Broccoli, cauliflower, and onions are also good options. This is also a perfect time to plant potatoes.
For a later spring planting, consider warm season crops like beans, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. You can get your tomato plants growing as well.
Colorado Gardening Tips
There are several things you can do to maximize the success of your Colorado garden. Pick locations to plant that get 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. Also, consider the warmest place in your yard.
Add organic material to your soil to counteract Colorado’s heavy clay soil. You can do this with compost or mulch. You’ll also want to clean out your garden beds to remove grass or vegetation that might impede on plant growth.
Using raised beds can help protect your garden against late frost. As can covering your plants with blankets in the event of inclement weather.