Home Home & Garden Garden Options for the Mountain West – FineGardening

Garden Options for the Mountain West – FineGardening


In the event you’ve checked out present drought maps for the Mountain West, you’ve seen a sea of crimson, orange, and yellow indicating abnormally dry to extreme drought circumstances throughout the area. See this drought monitor map for present info in your particular location. There are rumblings of water restrictions in some cities and states, to not point out the hazard of wildfire season.

To save lots of water and cash within the panorama, xeriscaping is essential. One other approach to save on each, in addition to time on upkeep, is to transform conventional bluegrass or fescue lawns into different garden areas. There are two basic choices of plant supplies that work effectively: heat season or native grasses and ground-cover perennials. Click on the hyperlinks in every of the next paragraphs for recommendations on putting in and sustaining every of those garden varieties.


The entire following grasses require full solar and are drought tolerant. They don’t tolerate weedkillers, particularly through the rising season.

Buffalo grass
Buffalo grass is a dense, low-water different to conventional garden grasses. Picture: Prairie Moon Nursery

Buffalo grass

Buchloe dactyloides, Zones 4–8

Buffalo grass is a warm-season, perennial grass. It may be grown from seed, plugs, or sod. Seeding is the most affordable approach to set up it, nevertheless it can be probably the most irritating approach, as buffalo grass takes some time to determine, giving weeds time to invade. As soon as established, although, it may possibly survive with out irrigation. Nevertheless, whether it is left unirrigated it can go dormant in the summertime, so it’s best to use some water throughout this time. In accordance with the Colorado State College extension service, “Those that select to plant newer buffalo grass varieties discover that their garden can stay inexperienced and enticing on 50-75% p.c much less irrigation than Kentucky bluegrass, requires much less frequent mowing, and thrives when fertilized solely a couple of times yearly.” For extra info on putting in this grass as a garden, go to the CSU extension service page.

blue grama grass
When allowed to develop, blue grama grass makes a gorgeous decorative. When minimize quick, it’s an excellent candidate for a garden. Picture: highcountrygardens.com

Blue grama grass

Bouteloua gracilis, Zones 3–10

This native bunch grass is present in our prairies, and several other varieties are thought of decorative vegetation within the panorama. However this grass can be grown as a garden, requiring minimal water, mowing, and fertilization as soon as established. It may be grown from seed or from plugs. An amazing supply of data for planting this grass as a garden will be discovered at High Country Gardens.

dog in green grass
For the look of a standard garden, with out the necessity to mow or water, attempt Canine Tuff™ grass. Picture: highcountrygardens.com

Canine Tuff™ grass

Cynodon ‘PWIN04S’, Zones 5–10

A more recent introduction, this grass recovers effectively from heavy foot site visitors and can also be immune to canine urine injury (therefore the identify!). The range doesn’t reseed, however spreads by way of runners. It doesn’t require mowing, because it solely grows 2½ to 4 inches tall. This grass is obtainable as plugs. Extra details about this garden possibility is obtainable at Plant Select.


Drought-tolerant perennial floor covers present a distinct sort of inexperienced garden. Once more, they require much less water, upkeep, and fertilization as in comparison with conventional lawns.

Creeping thyme
Creeping thyme spreads properly to create an impenetrable carpet on the bottom. Picture: Michelle Provaznik


Thymus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9

Varied creeping thymes can cowl fairly a big space, offering a gray-green carpet all year long with the occasional bloom interval, relying upon the species or selection. Soil prep is essential; it’s possible you’ll need to do a soil take a look at and add compost to assist enhance drainage. I’ve a small space with thyme in it, and I don’t do quite a bit to it. It will get irrigation from my drip system, however aside from eradicating some useless progress within the spring, I don’t contact it. Study extra about rising thyme as a garden at High Country Gardens.

Green carpet rupturewort
Inexperienced carpet rupturewort types a dense mat and might develop even in extraordinarily poor soil. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Inexperienced carpet rupturewort

Herniaria glabra, Zones 4–11

I’ve come to like this plant. With its shiny inexperienced leaves and low, spreading behavior, it makes the proper garden in entrance of a bench in my backyard. This plant will tolerate some shade. There are some years I don’t water it in any respect. Throughout one 12 months’s excessive warmth I did water it a few occasions. It dies again some every winter, so I minimize it again and let it fill in once more. It should additionally take foot site visitors. Study extra about rising this floor cowl as a garden at stepables.com.

—Michelle Provaznik is govt director of the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, Colorado.