May a good month to prepare and design your garden |

May a good month to prepare and design your garden

Hello to all the gardeners and do-it-yourself landscapers of Summit County! Has this warm and sunny weather got you thinking about spring flowers and landscaping your yard? Every time the temperature gets up into the 50s, I want to start digging in the dirt! But don’t get ahead of yourself, May is a little early to start planting and there are lots of things you can do to be ready for planting in June.

If you look at the ground around your house, (in between the snowfalls) you will notice a lot of activity. There are green shoots everywhere. This is the best time to start pulling up those newly emerging weeds, because the ground is soft, and the root systems are shallow. But be careful, don’t pull anything up unless you are sure it is a weed, or a plant you don’t want. You can always pull it up later, once you know it is an undesirable plant and not one of your favorite perennials. May is also a good time to start adding amendments like compost and other organics. For most plantings like trees and shrubs, you want to have at least 20 percent organic material as part of your mix. This will condition the soil by providing a home for beneficial microbes and nutrients, and will help maintain moisture in your soil. For perennials, annuals and ground covers the organic mix should be at least 50 percent or more, because these plants put a lot more energy into seasonal growth and floral displays, and need more nutrients and moisture to do their thing.

The other important thing you can be doing this month is planning what you want to plant. Now is the time to start your seedlings of annuals and perennials that you will put into the ground after June 15 (The last time we expect to see any frosty weather).

If you are not sure what you want, try a simple perennial border. A perennial border is an organized grouping of flowers used to edge an entry walk or a lawn area and can even be used to provide a foundation planting along a building. This collection of plants will come back year after year and provide a beautiful floral display throughout the summer. To keep it simple, pick five perennials that are easy to grow and drought resistant, in case you leave town for a few weeks this summer and don’t want to worry about watering. If you do not know what you want, I have suggested a layout of a preplanned perennial border with recommended plants and their characteristics. All of these plants are adapted to our planting zone and have low watering requirements. This plan is for a border that is 4 feet by 26 feet, but it can be modified for any length. These plants are readily available locally at Neils-Lunceford in Silverthorne.

A. Thymus – Thyme serphyllum’ Mother of Thyme’

This low matting ground cover grows 3-6″ high and provides pink/purple flowers from July until August.

B. Wormwood – Artemisia stelleriana ‘Silver Brocade’

This is a low compact plant, similar in appearance to Dusty Miller. It forms a spreading mat 3-6″ high of bright silvery-white scalloped leaves. It is great for edging, ground cover or hanging baskets.

C. Catmint – Nepeta x ‘Six Hills Giant’

This vigorous clumping perennial gets 36″ high and has flower spikes that are violet/blue and blooms from July until October.

D. Coneflower – Echinacea pupurea ‘Primadonna White’

This tall (24-36″ high) white flowering perennial blooms from July until September and attracts butterflies, seed eating birds and is a great cut flower.

E. Yarrow – Achillea x ‘Moonshine’

This perennial gets 18-24″ high and blooms June through September with a sulphur/yellow flower.

This column written by John Longhill, landscape architect

(, who has a site planning and landscape design office located in Silverthorne. Contact him at (970) 468-0924 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User