Have a plan for planting, watering a new yard

I’m planning on putting a new yard in this spring. Can you tell me what zone we’re in? Also, when can I start planting?

— Natalie

You’re right to start thinking about your yard now. Spring catalogs are coming in, and people are getting excited about getting going in the yard.

Every season we get lots of questions about what works well here, which zones are OK, and what needs extra care.

Zones primarily refer to how cold an area gets in the winter. The higher the zone number, the warm the area; the lower the zone number, the colder.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grand Junction is a zone 6, though they’ve recently modified that to a 7.

Honestly, I’m a little skeptical about this change. We’re staying cautious here, and waiting to see how those plants do through the cold.

A zone 6 plant is hardy to minus 5 degrees. You can incorporate plants rated zone 6 AND LOWER and expect them to do well in this area with the proper care.

The Sunset Western Garden Book has a different zoning system that is really great in California and along the Pacific coast, but not as helpful for us here in the cold country. They rate us as a zone 2, but they also include Denver and Rifle in the same zone, both of which are different from the Grand Valley.

As for planning your yard, if you are looking at doing the entire yard, I’d urge you to consider talking with a landscape designer. I know it can be hard for folks to spend several hundred dollars on “a piece of paper,” especially if your budget is tight, but landscaping your yard can be a huge undertaking, and it’s money well-spent to have it done from the ground up exactly the way you want it.

Having a plan helps keep you on track, so even if it takes a couple of years to put in your yard, you end up with a pleasing, unified landscape.

If you decide to use a designer, now is the time to look into it. They get very busy as spring progresses, so having a plan well in advance of the busy season gives you a head start.

If you only plan to work on a small section of your yard — a perennial bed, rock garden, etc. — it might make more sense to work it as a do-it yourself project.

One thing to keep in mind is the water requirements of the plants you want to use. Designing your yard with that in mind will help you decide what types of plants to group together. We have loads of books that include such information, and would be happy to talk with you about your needs.

If I were to cut off a small- to medium-size limb close to the trunk of a sycamore tree, how would I prevent new limbs from sprouting at the cut site?

— Michael

Sprouting from where a branch was cut off is a normal response of the tree. It’s basically trying to replace the growth that was removed.

The best advice I can give you is to monitor the tree and when sprouts come out, cut or break them off. The smaller they are, the easier it is. I’ll often just take my thumb and “rub” the tiny sprout off the tree.

If you’re good about doing this for a couple of months, the tree usually gives up and directs its growth higher where you want it.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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