Customer Garden: A Neighborhood Native Garden In Denver, Colorado
In Denver, Colorado, our customer Jason B. killed his Kentucky Bluegrass lawn and replaced it with waterwise native plants to attract pollinators, inspired by rain gardens and moonlight gardens. We interviewed him to learn more.
What motivated you to create a wildscape garden?
I created this garden for several reasons. The space started out as about 300 square feet of Kentucky Blue Grass that was difficult to keep looking nice, and wasn’t very functional because it was in the front of the house. I wanted to reduce my water use and create a garden that was unique and would attract pollinators and wildlife.
Our home’s builder provided the original landscaping. Even though the original landscape included the bluegrass that I eventually replaced, the plants in the border between the house and the grass were a great start to my habitat garden and included snowberry bushes, a hawthorn tree, several ornamental grasses, junipers, and spirea. I wanted to create a cohesive space that blended the original plants with the new.
What native and drought resistant plants did you use?
I selected plants that were xeric (drought resistant), that primarily have white or pink/red flowers or have silver foliage. In addition to having a similar color scheme with the home's original plants, I wanted to use white flowers, grasses, and silvery foliage so the garden would also look good at night and attract nighttime pollinators.
Plants include Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), Miss Manners Obedient Plant, White Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea), Penstemon, and Agastache.
I’ve also included a rain garden concept into the design where I’ve planted Joe Pye Weed and Obedient Plant where the downspout empties in the garden.
Get This Look! Shop Jason's Plant List
Blanca Peak™ White Penstemon (Penstemon strictus) is an award-winning white-flowered selection of our native Rocky Mountain Penstemon. Large, tubular flowers are a favorite nectar ...Learn MoreBlanca Peak™ Rocky Mountain Penstemon Blanca Peak™ Rocky Mountain Beardtongue Penstemon strictus 'WWG06'$12.99 Sale $11.69Sale Price I Save 10%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Sporobolus wrightii ‚Windbreaker‚ (Lunas Form of Giant Sacaton Grass) is the largest of all our native grasses growing to enormous size at maturity. Blooming in mid-summ...Learn MoreWindbreaker Giant Sacaton Grass Windbreaker Giant Sacaton Grass Sporobolus wrightii Windbreaker (Los Lunas Form)As low as $14.49Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Bouteloua gracilis ‚Blonde Ambition‚ PP#22,048 (Blue Grama Grass) is a native ornamental grass with a completely new look. The horizontal eyelash-like chartreuse flowers ...Learn MoreBlonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048As low as $15.99 Sale $12.79Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Powis Castle is a superb foliage plant with finely textured silver-gray foliage and an attractive mounding habit. Use this plant to accentuate ornamental grasses and other perennials...Learn MorePowis Castle Artemisia Powis Castle Artemisia Artemisia 'Powis Castle'As low as $10.99 Sale $8.79Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Physostegia virginiana ‚Crystal Peak White‚ is an award winning variety of our native Obedient Plant. ‚Crystal Peak White‚ blooms in mid-summer with numerous ...Learn MoreCrystal Peak White Obedient Plant Crystal Peak White Obedient Plant Physostegia virginiana Crystal Peak White$11.99 Sale $10.19Sale Price I Save 15%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Echinacea purpurea ‚PowWow® White‚ (Coneflower) is an outstanding, seed grown cultivar that blooms all season with a profusion of white flowers over a compact plant....Learn MorePowWow® White Echinacea PowWow® White Coneflower Echinacea purpurea PowWow® White$10.99 Sale $8.79Sale Price I Save 20%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
‚Magnus‚ is a distinctive, vigorous and large growing cone flower cultivar. The bright reddish-pink petals of its huge flowers are held flat as they radiate out from the ...Learn MoreMagnus Echinacea Magnus Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Magnus$12.99 Sale $11.04Sale Price I Save 15%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
36-48„ tall x 24-36„ wide. ‘Baby Joe’ is a compact selection of the large growing Joe Pye weed. In late summer the plant blooms with flat topped heads of smal...Learn MoreBaby Joe Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) Baby Joe Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium dubium Baby Joe$13.99 Sale $11.19Sale Price I Save 20%Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
Exclusive. Raspberry Delight® is an outstanding native Salvia hybrid with a summer-long display of stunning raspberry-red flowers and excellent cold hardiness (once established)....Learn MoreRaspberry Delight® Salvia Raspberry Delight® Hybrid Bush Sage Salvia Raspberry Delight®$11.99Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
What steps did you take to replace your lawn?
To kill the lawn, I spread of thin layer of manure and compost over the grass and then covered the area with black plastic.
After about a month the grass looked sufficiently dead. I rented a rototiller and tilled in the lawn, then removed the spray irrigation lines and extended a drip irrigation line into the new garden.
I had a load of wood mulch and a few small boulders delivered and placed in the garden. The boulders provide a little bit of interest in the spring when there isn’t much blooming, and they are also very popular stepping stones for the kids that walk by.
I’ve added to the garden each year but I still have gaps to fill in.
What pollinators and wildlife do you find in your garden?
My favorite pollinators that I’ve found in my garden are the bumblebees. I’ve observed Brown-belted, Yellow, and Hunt’s bumblebees. About a year ago I started photographing my bumblebees for the Xerces Society’s Bumble Bee Watch.
My kids and I also report observations of ladybugs to Cornell University’s Lost Ladybug Project.
I’ve also enjoyed watching the white-lined sphinx moths that visit in the evening.
Last year I planted a Furman’s Red Sage and Texas Red Yucca to provide for the hummingbirds that are around from late July into September.
I also have a spot reserved for a columnar juniper and some milkweed that I hope to get started this fall to support monarch butterflies.
What else are you growing in your gardens?
The part of my yard which I’ve shared in my photos complements my back yard, where I have planted High Country Gardens’ Habitat Hero Birdwatcher Pre-Planned Garden that I won at the Habitat Hero workshop in 2014, and where I maintain a bird bath.
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Interview Conducted and Edited by Wendy Hatoum for High Country Gardens. © All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens.