Putting

Putting your Colorado garden to bed for the winter

Autumn weather so far is resembling summer, other than the brief cold snap last month.

Along with recent 80-degree days, there are dangerous fires still burning in parts of the state. The city of Fort Collins is on water restrictions because of drought, the Cameron Peak fire and the maintenance project on the Horsetooth Reservoir.

Next week, temperatures should cool to the 60s with little to no moisture relief in sight.

Will sweater and parka weather arrive soon? Your guess is as good as mine. It is Colorado, after all, and winter can arrive any minute, impolitely skipping a gradual cool-wet fall season that gardeners and landscape plants prefer.

Let’s all make the best of it: Get some exercise outside on these beautiful October days and put the landscape to bed properly.

Water

Our landscapes are dry. We’ve had only one moisture-producing storm of late along the Front Range. (You remember Sept. 8 and 9, when it snowed and gardeners quietly cursed.) For an already dry region that only receives roughly 15 inches of precipitation yearly, we are currently at 7½ inches. Nature has some catching up to do.

Landscape plant roots absolutely need to be moist going into cold weather prior to the ground freezing. Dry roots can spell disaster for perennial plants that went in the ground this past spring, summer or last week. Dry tree roots, coupled with lack of winter moisture, can lead to root and branch death, less foliage, scorched foliage, no foliage or no tree next year.

If you are unsure if your landscape is dry, the simplest way to assess is to poke a screwdriver straight down in landscaped areas, like mulched beds, lawns and around trees. If it goes down easily, you’re probably not too dry. Conversely, if you’re using a bit