There are so many choices to make for your new season of outdoor landscaping for plants and shrubs, however, we believe that choosing your native species is one very strong decision you can make for the best environmental sustainability for your local area, and here’s some reasons why.
Grow Native Shrubs! There are many benefits to using Colorado native shrubs for home and commercial landscapes. Colorado native shrubs are naturally adapted to their specific Colorado climate, soils, and environmental conditions. When correctly sited, they can be ideal plants for a sustainable landscape that requires reduced external inputs such as watering, fertilizing, and pruning. In order to realize these benefits, the planting site must approximate the natural environmental conditions of the plant in its native habitat. Another benefit of using Colorado natives in landscapes is that they may attract a wide variety of wildlife including mammals, birds, and butterflies. Rapid urbanization in the state is reducing biodiversity as habitat is removed for building and road construction. Landscaping with natives on a large or small scale can maintain biodiversity that otherwise would be lost to development.
The shrubs listed in Table 1 are grown by some Colorado nurseries and are becoming more available in the commercial sector. However, not all shrubs listed are available at all nurseries, so it may be necessary to contact a number of commercial outlets to find a specific plant. If a shrub is not sold in the trade, asking for it may help increase its availability. Native shrubs should not be collected from the wild because this reduces biodiversity and causes a disturbed area that may be invaded by weeds. Most of the shrubs listed in Table 1 are available as container-grown plants. Native shrubs often do not have as great a visual impact in the container or immediately after planting as do traditional horticultural species. Over time, they will reward the homeowner with their natural beauty and other benefits.
There are several factors to consider in designing a native landscape. Due to Colorado’s wide variation of elevation and topography, native plants are found in a variety of habitats. In order to maximize survival with minimal external inputs, plants should be selected to match the site’s life zone and the plant’s moisture, light, and soil requirements. Even if a plant is listed for a particular life zone, the aspect (north, south, east or west facing) of the proposed site should match the moisture requirement. For example, a red twig dogwood, which has a high moisture requirement, should not be sited with plants of dissimilar water needs. Similarly, a red twig dogwood should not be planted on a Mountain-mahogany fruit (Cerocarpus montanus ) south-facing slope, where a significant amount of additional moisture would be required.
Growing native shrubs does not exclude the use of adapted non-native plants. There are many non-native plants that are adapted to Colorado’s climate and can be used in a native landscape as long as moisture, light, and soil requirements are similar. Even if a site has a non-native landscape that requires additional inputs (such as an irrigated landscape on the plains), dry land native plants can be used in non-irrigated pockets within the non-native landscape. These native “pocket gardens” can be located in areas such as parkways and next to hardscapes that are difficult to irrigate.
Some communities regulate landscape appearance or the type of plants which may be used. So before completing a landscape design, check with local authorities, including homeowner’s associations, to discover any regulations that may affect your design.
For the list of shrubs in Table 1 spoken of here in this blog go to your local extension service at:
And also ask your landscaper and we are sure they can provide all you may be seeking for your new season of outdoor landscaping.