Noisy yard became a peaceful haven Email
Written by Lyn Dean   
Tuesday, February 09, 2021 03:00 AM

Rocky Mountain Custom Landscapes, Inc. (RMCL) has been working on a clients’ Vail property for eight years. The homeowners originally contracted RMCL’s construction division to build water features on this high-elevation, mountainous site and subsequently hired RMCL to plant and maintain gardens on the property.

“The clients’ goal was to have thick, vibrant gardens full of color to soften the hardscapes of cascading water,” says Lauren Crary, maintenance & gardening account manager at RMCL, who has been managing this site for the past three years. “They also wanted the gardens to blend into the surrounding wildflower areas and have some ornamentals closer to the home.” RMCL uses annuals, perennials and shrubs to create the color and naturalized effect the clients wanted. The homeowners also wanted to harvest organic produce from their yard by growing climate-appropriate edibles.

It took time for the plants to mature to their current fullness. After seven years of growth and careful maintenance, the gardens were awarded the 2020 ELITE Award for Use of Color – Judges’ Choice. By 2019 “the plants were full and vibrant, Crary says “That’s why we submitted for the ELITE.”

Terrain challenges
“There are a lot of site-specific challenges,” Crary says. “The terrain is rocky, and the high elevation makes plant selection very important. Even within the site there are microclimates that get different exposures, and there was some trial-and-error in plant selection to get it right.”

Crary and her team also had to adapt maintenance practices for the growing plants. “As plants mature, things change and maintenance requirements change. Irrigation may have to be adjusted. Or a large plant may have to be moved if it grew too big for its location,” she says.

“The climate varies year to year, but overall, plant selection for this rugged terrain has been good. Plant selection is the key to this garden’s success—they are hardy, drought-tolerant and animal resistant. Overall, the plants have thrived and become mature and vibrant.”

Deer don’t listen well
Then there are the deer who don’t buy into the notion of deer-resistant plants. “The deer are a constant challenge on this site,” Crary confesses. “They like some of the plant choices even though we chose perennials deer supposedly don’t like. We also look for deer access areas on the property and use a deer repellant spray weekly on some of the plants. The repellant is helpful but we have to be vigilant.”

Client satisfaction
Because of its long duration of care and maintenance of the property, RMCL notes that the clients enjoy using and interacting with the property. “Being able to grow and enjoy their own food connects the clients to their garden. The gardens also enhance the outdoor living areas, making them more inviting, and they blend into the native landscape at the edges, giving the landscape a sense of purpose.”

In early 2020, as COVID-19 came on the scene, the client cut the maintenance budget, but the RMCL team increased their efforts and maintained the same level of care in the 2020 season. The client was pleased saying “the gardens are looking the best he’s seen them.”

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Colorado Green.

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