What should we put in our garden?

The design team has been busy.  A garden’s success depends on choosing the Right Plant for the Right Place.  The team will select plants that will live in our hardiness zone (5b), will be either sun or shade plants, and work with our water and soil conditions.  Choosing the right plant for the right place is critical for success as a gardener.  This has to be taken into consideration for every single plant that goes into our garden.  Put that together with all the plants available in all the different colors and it’s a huge task to choose the right plants.  It’s easy to get distracted by color and height and looks and then figure out the plant won’t grow here.  There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that need to fit together.  If you have ever put a begonia in the hot sun or geraniums in the shade you know what this is about.  It’s so disappointing to have plants die from heat or not bloom in the shade after all the hard work in planting them.  Not to mention what it cost to make these mistakes.

Earlier there was a work day to measure the garden so a blueprint could be drawn up.  They made an outline of the garden and then filled in all the measurements.

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At the first design team meeting they took the blueprint with measurements and traced some blank outlines of the blueprint so they could all brainstorm and give ideas on how to divide the area.

There will be five sections to the main area of the left side of the main entrance to the building.  They’ve decided that they need one new shrub and perennials (plants that come back every year).  The garden faces east so will get lots of hot sun but there is a shady area created by the trees.  In conjunction with Greeley Conservation the garden will have low water Xeric plants and we will use mostly plant select plants.  This will allow all the plants to need the same amount of water.  Plant Selects are plants that are selected for our area and have been on trial to see how they grow in our hardiness zone (Greeley is 5b)**, and soil conditions.  Once our garden is established we can apply to be a trial garden for Plant Select and every year will get new plants and document how they grow in our conditions.

Everyone brought their perennial books and got busy discussing what plants will work best in each of the five areas, what color scheme they want, and how the designs for each area will flow into each other.

It has already been decided that from the side of the building along the south edge for sun and shade gardens they will use plans for Garden In A Box***  Garden in a box is a program through Resource Central to buy pre-planned gardens.  Everything comes in the box for you to design and plant a certain area space.  They have several different low water kits available in color schemes, shade gardens, butterfly gardens, pollinator gardens, etc.  These kits sell out really fast so if you are interested please visit these sites to get information and order a garden.   If you live in certain areas of Weld County you will receive a discount.  After ordering your garden you will be given a date and location to pick up your garden.

Next they discussed the focal point of the garden.  All other areas will flow into the area with the focal point.  They discussed the lines of the garden and where there would be foot paths (to work in the garden for weeding purposes, etc).  They discussed adding a small shrub to balance out the two other trees that were left in the garden.

Color schemes thrown around were red, orange, purple, blue and yellow.  There will be several rocks placed in the garden that will be green.    Sort of a sunset theme going on.  They will choose ground cover that will compliment the plants and will make selections so there will always be something blooming Spring, Summer and Fall.

There was lots of other exciting discussion about what plants and where to put them.  A good start to the design.  Wow, this was just for two areas.  Lots more planning to go.

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*Right Plant, Right Place info (lots of information on how to pick plants for your area)


**   Zone Map to find your zone (Greeley is 5b, further north in Weld County it could be 5a or even 4b).  Look at the low temperature guide on the right hand side of the page and depending on how cold it gets where you live that would be your zone.  When you buy plants there is a tag to show you its hardiness zone.  If it’s above your zone chances aren’t it won’t survive the winter.  The lower the number the more cold it will withstand.


*** Garden in a Box info



Once the design is complete it will be presented to the Island Grove Board for approval.  We all can’t wait to see this start to take form.

Watch our garden grow!!

Posted in Colorado Master Gardeners, Demo Garden, Garden design, Uncategorized, Weld County Extension | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soil Testing our gardens


One of our first tasks was to have a soil test performed.  We tested the two areas seen in the pictures above.  Soil testing is important to tell you what type of soil you have for drainage and water, and what nutrients you will need for the crops you are planting.  We are doing flowers and some shrubs/trees so we will concentrate on what we need to grow those plants.

We had our test performed and the results are back.  Our garden had been planted with trees and shrubs so most likely it had been amended at some point in the past but not recently.  Now it is a couple of trees and lots of weeds.


The soil is sandy loamy which means it will drain medium to fast so will dry out more quickly (better than hard lumpy clay).  We are planning on using low water plants so this will be ok.  The drainage will help us determine what type of irrigation is needed.  Most likely for low water plants we will use a drip system with some spray heads.

The PH is slightly high which shouldn’t be a problem for the plants we will put here.

Lime is very high which is typical for Colorado.  Our soil is very alkaline.  The plants we are planting will still grow well though so that’s ok.  This information will help us determine what plants will grow best here.

Organic matter is low but that is expected since this area hasn’t been amended in years.  Some nice compost will help out for this.  This could be animal or plant matter.  If you home compost it would work great.  We’ll talk more about this when we amend our garden.  For more info on compost see the link below**

Nitrates are low.  We’ll need to add some nitrogen.  Nitrogen is what helps plants grow.  We have lots of phosphorus in the soil which helps them bloom so we won’t need to any more phosphorus.  As we go along we will determine if there are some plants that might need some fertilizer.

There are lots of elements tested but these are the ones we will have to give more care.  Everything else tested out to be normal levels or we didn’t need to add any more of the element.

Anyone can have their soil tested at the CSU labs.  It’s amazing the difference there can be in samples within a small yard.  When testing you will gather samples from different areas of your space.

Soil sample jars and information forms are available at Colorado State University Extension county offices, fertilizer and agrichemical dealers, garden centers, nurseries, commercial soil testing laboratories, or from the Colorado State University Soil, Water and Plant Testing Laboratory, Room A319, Natural and Environmental Sciences Building, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1120; (970)491-5061. Samples can be mailed directly to the laboratory for analysis.

The soil sample jars and information give you all the information you need to know about how to collect the samples.  You can mail them in or drop them off at the university.

If you would like to do some research on soil here are some links you can check out:


The link to compost:

** http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/choosing-a-soil-amendment/

Watch our garden grow!!












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Our new Weld County Extension Demo Garden

There is excitement around the extension office  We have received funds to renovate the garden in front of the exhibition building where the extension office is located.  The Colorado Garden Foundation and the City of Greeley are funding the renovation.  To read all about the new garden please read the About The Weld County Extension Demo Garden page.  It contains all the information on why we’re renovating, what the new garden will contain and how it will benefit our community.

The new garden will be a demonstration garden that will include plants that are water-wise and are selected to grow in our climate and soil conditions.  It will be an educational garden to share information and help gardeners in our community be successful.  It will be use for Master Gardener training, 4-H programs, hands-on classes and there will be kiosks with information on gardening in our community.  It will beautify the area and bring attention to the extension office located in the building.

There are two areas we will renovate.  The area to the left of the sidewalk when entering the exhibition building, and the area along the front sidewalk to the right.

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To say the least this is a huge project.  We’ve created this blog so you can follow along through all of the steps we will take to renovate the existing garden into a whole new creation.  As we do our garden you can follow along to see all the steps so you can be a successful gardener too.  The Weld County Master Gardeners have already started on the project.

We had a meeting for any interested master gardeners that would like to work on the new demo garden.  There is a lot to do so we broke out into teams according to our skills and what we would like to do.

Tasks include:

Soil testing

Calling to locate electrical and gas lines

Mark irrigation lines and come up with an irrigation plan

Clear the land of brush, weeds and stump removal

Garden Design – measuring the space and coming up with a design and presenting it for approval by Island Grove

apply pre-emergent and amend soil

purchase plants



plant garden, install benches, and informational kiosks

Plan an opening ribbon cutting event

Create a blog and photograph processes and track progress


Three master gardeners volunteered to be project managers.  They will oversee all the teams and projects.

We decided if we would like to be on the design, installation, maintenance, or advertising team.  Most everyone is on more than one team.

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As you can see there is a lot to be done.

We’re just getting started.  If you would like to follow us on our adventure of how to create a garden you can follow this blog by clicking on the follow button on the right and you will receive a notification by e-mail whenever there is a new article published.

Watch our garden grow!!







Posted in Colorado Master Gardeners, Demo Garden, Uncategorized, Weld County Extension | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment