Rocky Mountain XScapes Help & How To
How Do I...?
Since Rocky Mountain XScapes specializes in landscape designs for the do-it-yourselfer we are here to help you get started in implementing your fabulous new landscape. Below are some hot topics such as where do I start?, where do I buy plants? and what if I give up and want to hire a contractor? If something else comes up, please do not hesitate to give us a call and ask!
Where Do I Start?
First and foremost, please call to have your utilities located at least 3 days before any digging! Please call the Utility Notification Center of Colorado at 800.922.1987 before you begin.
Once you call UNCC you can begin to plot out the area you intend to tackle first. The best way to convert the plan we have provided you into a gorgeous landscape is to take a garden hose and some spray paint into the yard along with a ruler, measuring tape and your plan. Begin to measure out parts of your yard that correspond with your plan. For example, if on your plan your landscape bed comes out one inch from your house with the ruler, which equals 8 feet from your house with the measuring tape (using the RMX standard of 1/8" = 1'). Mark the areas with your garden hose first. Once you are satisfied that you measured most of the areas correctly, you can spray paint where the garden hose is lying.
Now that you have a spray painted area of where the landscape beds and grass meet, you will need to begin removing grass, rock and any plants not in the plan from the landscape bed area. This involves the following:
- Removal of sod - best done with a rented sod cutter from any Home Depot or other rental store.
- Removal of existing plants not in the plan - this can be done with a pair of pruners and a shovel if small or with a chainsaw, pick axe or stump grinder if larger. The latter is best left to professionals.
- Removal of rock - this is a horrible task where a shovel and a wheelbarrow will be needed. Rock is not usually a plant's best friend so it's best to remove as much as possible before planting.
Once you've cleared the area that you intend to plant, you will need to make a decision regarding edging. You have several options when it comes to edging and it's a personal choice. I've listed some of the most popular choices:
- Galvanized Steel Edging (straight and roll top for safety) - easy to install and durable but frost heaving can be a problem.
- Plastic Edging - easy to install but frost heaving can be a problem.
- Concrete Edging - installed by professionals and very permanent.
An edger can be rented to dig a 3-4 inch 'trench' in which you can place edging. Follow your spray painted line with the edger to make the installation of the edging easier. Once the cutter has been run you should be able to slide the edging into the 'trench' and secure it with pins or stakes.
Now that the landscape bed has been defined and cleared of unwanted plant material and you've installed your edging you can shape your bed and also add a soil amendment. If your landscape design calls for a berm, now is when you would add fill dirt to build the berm. A berm is simply a mound of soil. The way to make a berm is to pile the dirt roughly where you want it and begin compacting that area by walking over it until packed down. Continue to do this until the berm is the height called for in your plan. It is a good idea to water the berm to help compact it further before you plant anything in the berm. Let the berm sit for about a week or so while continuing walk on it and lightly sprinkle it with water during that week.
Now is the time to think about soil amendment. A 2" layer of compost or other organic material is recommended to help plants during their first year. Spread the compost in the bed and rake and till into soil (optional). Once tilled, rake lightly so that there is a smooth surface for planting.
Now it's time to plant! This is the fun part of all of this hard work! Rocky Mountain XScapes will be happy to help you purchase the plants needed for your landscape when you're ready for them! See below for more information on this great service. Once you have your selected plants, lay them out according to the plan, measuring as you did for the landscape bed layout and ensure that you have the correct placement of the plants. Once satisfied, let the digging begin. You should dig a hole that is approximately 1 1/2 -2 times larger than the pot the plant is currently in. Backfill the hole with loosened soil and remove the plant from the pot. Score the root ball with 3 or 4 vertical lines (about 1/2 inch deep) to separate any bound roots from the root ball. Place the plant in the hole and fill or remove dirt so that the soil level of the plant is level with that of the ground. Once you've got the hole and the plant to the correct height, backfill around the hole with loosened soil. Tamp around the base of the plant with your foot to remove any air pockets that could kill your plant. Water after planting to ensure your plant gets off to a good start. Continue to monitor the plants for signs of stress after planting and give them a good watering if they start to look wilted or otherwise stressed. Typically this is every other day or every 3rd day (if planting in the spring - every day or every other day in July or August). Continue to do this for 2-3 weeks. After that, try to taper the watering a little bit so the plant has to go in search of water. This will help strengthen the root system. However, be sure to water the plant if it starts to wilt. With proper mulch the plant should weather some dry spells without too much additional moisture.
Mulch! This is critical to any landscape! You will want to spread a 3" layer of mulch (shredded bark, small bark chips, cocoa hulls or other fine wood material) over all landscape beds. Ensure that the mulch is around the base of each plant so that it can survive the heat and dryness that is soon to come. Please don't consider large nuggets or rock mulch. These do not benefit any plant and should not be used in planting beds.
Now that your landscape is planted you can sit back and enjoy. Just watch for signs of stress such as the following:
- Yellow/yellowing or brown/browning leaves - this is likely a sign that they need more water. After the first year it could be a number of things such as too little light, too much light, too much water or too little water.
- 'Flagging' - this is when the plant is wilting or the leaves are curling. Give them a good drink to help them along.
- Insect damage - carefully watch for attacks from insects such as holes, bumps, white lines or any other suspicious activity. Older plants can usually survive some insect damage but newly planted ones should be treated with a pesticide (preferably organic) to help them through.
The first year is tough and you can usually expect to lose a small percentage of what you plant, even with the best of care. Most of the time, other plants will fill in, but if not there is always time to plant next year. With perennial gardens remember that things are sparse the first year or two but during the third year, watch out! Things will come alive and you can bask in your wonderful landscape! Enjoy!
Where Do I Buy Plants?
While nobody can guarantee a plant's survival, buying good quality plants to begin with definitely increases your odds. With your landscape design, we will provide a price list of the plants in your design. If you'd like to just make one phone call to have all of the plants delivered to your door, just call us! Tell us what date/time you want them delivered and we will get them to you at a great price. This is a great service as it provides one stop shopping! We do not warranty our plants like the big nurseries but we are providing the same plants for less money and delivering them to you. Whatever route you go, please be sure to buy from top quality nurseries. We know that large retail chains offer some great bargains but the quality of plants and the quality of care is just not that good. No matter what plants you use, just keep a close eye on them to ensure they survive the transplant shock.
I'm throwing in the towel - who can I call?
Call us of course! We are happy to consult with you to get you through a tough time or we can refer you to one of our landscape installers! Reach us by phone at 303.589.0939 or by email at email@example.com.