Every geographical area has unique gardening issues. Denver is no exception. A dry climate, combined with dry winds and high altitude are among the leading causes of gardening woes. There’s also the primarily clay or primarily sandy soil, depending on your exact location. So, what are the problems these crazy conditions create?
The great dry out:
Denver air is dry as a bone most of the time. This is a semi-arid climate. So, when winds come sweeping through, gardens are sucked dry, rather than replenished. Wind blocks like fencing are more of a necessity than an option.
Add the close proximity to the sun (high altitude) in with the already dry air. What you get is a garden that’s both baked and fried.
It’s better to garden early in the morning or later on in the evening after the sun begins setting. Gardening in the mid-day sun is next to impossible. Use an umbrella or other protection from the sun if you decide to do it anyway. Skin cancer is a very real threat here. So is sunstroke.
Factor in the infrequent rain and the Denver garden is parched beyond belief. Denver does have a spring rainy season. Otherwise, watering frequently is an absolute must.
Denver has seasonal water restrictions. Rain barrels and gray water systems are illegal.Therefore, Denver gardeners have to get creative at working around the rules.
According to regulations, watering has to be done at a time of day when the sun is not so intense. There’s no room for negotiation here. This rule is to cut down on the amount of water lost through evaporation. The hotter the sun, the more quickly the water evaporates.
When it does rain, flooding is common. Therefore, even though it might save water to plant in low lying areas, doing so may leave your garden 3 feet under or washed away in heavy rain.
Container gardening and individualized plant watering can help conserve water.
Lack of consistency
You never know what kind of soil is lurking under the surface in Colorado. If you live out on the plains, chances are, your soil is primarily sandy. Closer to or in the metro area, you likely have mostly clay soil. However, you can have both in the same yard. So, it can be a little frustrating.
Crazy soil amendments
No matter what kind of soil you have, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you will not have a perfect mix here. It’s generally one extreme or the other. So, whether you have straight up clay or straight up sand, you’ll likely have to either buy soil, mix in soil amendments or stick to plants that thrive in your soil type in order to garden.
Of course, there are gardening positives in Denver.
Denver residents can’t exactly garden all year. Colorado does have 4 seasons. On the other hand, the growing season is longer than a lot of states.
Denver gardeners never have to worry about a lack of sunlight in the garden.
The Denver metro area sits in a nice little pocket of Rocky Mountain shelter. Sure, Denver gets some bad weather. Still, it’s nothing like central Tornado Alley. There’s not nearly as much severe weather damage.
Denver’s geographical location keeps winters relatively mild, which is a boon for Denver gardeners. Those who complain about Denver’s terrible winters are likely considering the one or two big storms each winter or January’s freezing temps. The rest of the time, it’s not so bad here, compared to the Colorado mountain towns. For instance, if you don’t get all your fall clean-up finished, you can play catch up on those occasional 70 degree winter days.
Yes, there are some garden issues unique to Denver. However, it’s still a gardening mecca, comparatively speaking.