Colorado is one of the trickier states to landscape in. It encompasses no less than five USDA hardiness Zones — from a chilly Zone 3 (-40 degrees F) all the way to Zone 7 (0 degrees F) — and much of the state receives precious little precipitation. Combined with higher altitude in some parts of the state as well as high-pH soils, it can be frustrating for gardeners of any experience. Fortunately Colorado can be divided into a trio of regions to provide some landscaping guidance.
Colorado is a beautiful state, but you already know that! During our time as a Denver fence company, we have seen some homeowners struggle with finding the perfect way to landscape their yards. Our high altitude and somewhat dry climate makes landscaping a challenge and creates some limitations. There are various plants that will survive if planted and taken care of, yet our options are different than those that would survive in a more humid climate. If you are thinking of starting a garden, or plan to landscape on your own, make sure you know what will thrive and what will not survive.
Most people picture what’s called the Front Range when they picture Colorado: the picturesque stretch of topography from Wyoming to New Mexico, comprising the intersection of the Plains and the mountains, which lie to the west. That includes the Denver metro area and Boulder, as well as two-thirds of the population of the state. Front Range Colorado landscapes get lots of snow and lots of wind, as well as about the same amount of moisture as the eastern part of the state. But winter weather in the Front Range isn’t as severe as elsewhere, which “presents difficulty for some plants, which can’t figure out if it’s winter or spring,” Cox says. That means successful Colorado gardeners stick with tried-and-true plants. “We don’t have a huge palette of landscape plants,” Cox says. “Our choices are more limited, and so we often become overly dependent on certain species.”
Across the Continental Divide, the rest of the state is at a higher elevation, with fewer towns and cities, even when the elevation drops. This area offers an extremely dry climate, particularly in winter and summer, with humidity well below 10 percent at times. The low humidity in those Colorado landscapes is hard on broad-leaf evergreens such boxwood, though less so on green ash and, to a certain extent, cottonwoods.