by High Country Gardens

Tom Peace planting Denver
Native and drought resistant plants by Tom Peace in Denver, Colorado.

Tips for easy-care gardening that will benefit pollinators

Whether it’s adding in a few new plants, converting some high maintenance lawn to low care alternatives, or beginning a new habitat-friendly garden makeover, using sustainable principles to guide you will ultimately give you a healthy garden that will require less care as it becomes more resilient.

What is sustainable gardening?

At High Country Gardens sustainable gardening is the cornerstone of our business. We look at whole gardens, from soil to critters, and grow plants (many drought resistant or natives), that contribute beauty, ease of care and ideally a little something extra for our pollinators. By gardening with sustainability in mind you automatically create a landscape that is rich in diversity, easy-care, and that benefits a larger world.

Cedar Waxwing on prunus.

When gardening sustainably, it’s helpful to think of your garden as a circle or a sphere, a network of small parts that are connected to and dependent upon all of the other parts. When we get the parts in place by taking the whole into account we are gardening sustainably, mimicking an ecosystem found in nature. Healthy ecosystems are robust and resilient, giving us more time to enjoy our landscapes with friends and family.

Nectar-rich perennial sunflower Helianthus Lemon Max is a native plant perfectly suited for a habitat garden. It provides nectar for native bees, as well as plentiful seeds for birds.

Here’s our top three spring pointers for sustainable gardening

The foundation in any garden or earthscape is the soil. The soil beneath our feet is a living world of small and microbial organisms that work together to create the healthy ecosystem we call soil. We can increase the health of our soil (and our plants) not by digging, turning or tilling the soil but by adding layers of plant nutrients to the surface. They gradually breakdown into the best of all fertilizers, creating a thriving living community beneath our feet. Using organic mulch reduces weeds, reduces watering needs and recycles your green waste into soil. Use organic supplements such as Yum Yum Mix and Plant Success mycorrhizal root inoculant to give new plantings a boost and to replace nutrients used the previous season. By using organic supplements our soil and plants thrive and we can enjoy a safe and healthy landscape for pets and family.

Salvia dorrii v_ incana Robusta Hymenoxys scaposa
Robust Gray Great Basin Sage with Thrift Leaf Perky Sue (Hymenoxys scaposa) are well suited for each other, as both require full sun and minimal water, once established.

The saying, “The right plant in the right place” is a golden rule when creating a sustainable landscape. Pay close attention to each plant’s requirements, ask questions, and especially consider water, sun, and soil needs, grouping like plants together. Use bloom-time information to create a full season of color and nectar for pollinators. Native plants offer multiple bonuses for a sustainable and resilient garden. They have evolved to thrive on our continent and our insects, and birds and and other wildlife depend upon their presence for sustenance. They are low care, already matched to our soil conditions and offer a beautiful, more natural look to a garden or yard.

The rain garden at the Visitor Center at Chatfield Farms of the Denver Botanic Garden, designed by Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden.

Lastly, sustainable gardening involves thinking about our neighbors--down the street, in the field next door or in the river that flows to the ocean. What we put in our gardens may spread in a big rain, wind storm, or be carried by birds and bees. Contouring our land to contain overflow can add visual interest as well as prevent runoff. Rain gardens are great ways to create a landscape that can handle extreme rainfall. Beautiful, whether dry or full of water, they have been found to help purify water and to hold rainwater within your property, further reducing expensive water bills.

By using organic products, and plants that don’t need a lot of supplementation, when waters overflow we can rest easy knowing that our runoff won’t harm others.

Text by Katrina Godshalk, a garden writer with over eight years of experience writing for the High Country Gardens catalog. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in sustainability. She makes her home in Washington State, and has gardened extensively in the Southwest.

© All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republishing an entire High Country Gardens blog post or article is prohibited without written permission. Please feel free to share a short excerpt with a link back to the article on social media websites, such as Facebook and Pinterest.

  1. Bouteloua gracilis Hachita Grass Plugs, Bouteloua gracilis Hachita, Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs

    Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs (Bouteloua gracilis) is the most vigorous selection of this beautiful native grass from the western Great Plains. Beloved for its "eyelash" seed heads,...

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    Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs Bouteloua gracilis Hachita
    Per Tray of 70

    Hachita Blue Grama Grass Plugs (Bouteloua gracilis) is the most vigorous selection of this beautiful native grass from the western Great Plains. Beloved for its "eyelash" seed heads, it can also be mowed once a month to create a soft, inviting lawn. Quite xeric, 'Hachita' Blue Grama thrives in both sandy soils and clay! You can also interplant plugs with wildflowers to grow a colorful, low-care short grass prairie. For a turf type lawn, plant plugs 6" apart. We recommend using Organic Plant Magic as a root dip to spur grass plug growth. 4" tall (15" with seed heads).

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